Pure, affordable: Mutare’s water sets standards

07 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Pure, affordable: Mutare’s water sets standards City of Mutare offers the purest, cleanest and cheapest tap water in the country due to its stringent quality standards, well-maintained infrastructure and well-kept source

The ManicaPost

 

Tendai Gukutikwa
Post Reporter

CITY of Mutare offers the purest, cleanest and cheapest tap water in the country due to its stringent quality standards, well-maintained infrastructure and well-kept source, The Manica Post can reveal.

The provision of safe and affordable clean drinking water in urban settings is a high priority for municipalities, and justifiably so because water protected from contamination improves health, education and economic growth.

Communities need the commodity in its purest form for household cooking, washing and sanitation as well as sustaining ecosystems that provide life-supporting services for people, animals and plants.

As a result, Mutare and Eldoret in Kenya are known for providing some of the cleanest water services in Africa, with the eastern border city being singled out for honours by UNICEF as having invested heavily in its water treatment infrastructure; which guarantees high-quality potable water for residents.

Both cities (Mutare and Eldoret) have become models in the region for their effective water services.

Mutare draws its water from Pungwe River, Odzani and Smallbridge dams — sources known for their pristine natural environment, which extend and contribute to the high quality of the tap water in the city.

Acting Mutare town clerk, Mr Blessing Chafesuka, said the city sells its water at a marginal cost of US$0,56 per 1 000 litres, making it the cheapest in the country as other cities charge US$1 for the same litrage.

 

Mr Chafesuka said their water is the cheapest because they do not pump it using electricity.

The water is distributed using gravity, which saves them from incurring electricity costs.

“Our water is the cheapest in the country at US$0,56. This is because it goes straight from the source to the treatment plant, and from the treatment plant to the final consumer. Other cities have exorbitant charges for their water because they pump the precious liquid from one point to the other, and electricity costs have huge bearing on the final cost of the litrage. This makes their water expensive than ours,” he said.

Mr Chafesuka said 60 percent of their water is drawn from Pungwe River, which is famous for its clean and unpolluted environs.

“We do not use a lot of chemicals to purify the water because it is naturally clean. We do not incur much purification costs as we require few chemicals,” he said.

However, the local authority needs to work on its distribution infrastructure as oftentimes thousands of litres are lost through burst pipes down the Christmas Pass from their storage tanks as well as in some suburbs across the city.

 

Mutare City Council’s Acting Town Clerk, Mr Blessing Chafesuka

Mutare City Council’s Acting Town Clerk, Mr Blessing Chafesuka

Residents have for years called on the local authority to upgrade and expand its water reticulation system to new suburbs.

The city council acquires the precious liquid from Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), and Mr Chafesuka said their model does not allow for profit-making.

Mr Chafesuka, however, decried the fact that despite offering the cheapest and cleanest water, residents and ratepayers are still not paying up their bills, making it difficult for them improve on their distribution efficiency and expand the existing reticulation system.

Mutare City Council is owed a staggering US$8,9 million in unpaid bills, a development that Mr Chafesuka said has seen the council struggling to fulfil some of its critical obligations.

He said this setback poses a serious threat to council’s ability to render essential services like repair of burst pipes, efficient effluent and solid waste management to residents, key infrastructure development and retooling.

Mutare City was owed US$7,5 million at the beginning of the year, which has since spiked to the current US$8,9 million as residents and ratepayers struggle to meet their obligations due to the prevailing economic challenges.

Mr Chafesuka said there is need for prompt payment by ratepayers and residents to ensure the continued provision of quality services and infrastructure development in Manicaland’s provincial capital.

He said debtors continue to cripple the local authority’s ability to deliver quality services and enhance infrastructure development in the city.

“What was happening before we started billing in foreign currency is that the majority of our clients would delay paying their rates for three or four months, and then clear the bills after we disconnected their water, but then the value would have been eroded by inflation. When we started billing in foreign currency, there was an outcry because debtors ceased waiting for the rates to fluctuate so that they could pay,” he said.

Mr Chafesuka said they are using various media outlets to urge residents and ratepayers to pay their bills on time.

“We have ambassadors who encourage ratepayers to pay their bills so that council can provide quality service as expected,” he said.

Mr Chafesuka said council is collecting an average of US$1,5 million per month, which is about 60 percent of the anticipated monthly revenue.

Council bills an average of US$2,7 million per month.

“The other 40 percent is coming in the form of local currency. I would like to appreciate the support we are getting from ratepayers paying in foreign currency because we also rely on that foreign currency to offer service delivery.

“We encourage our ratepayers to also support service delivery through paying their services partly in foreign and local currency,” he said.

Mr Chafesuka said council requires foreign currency to procure crucial service delivery apparatus like road equipment as well as water treatment chemicals, fuel, road maintenance materials and staff-related costs.

“Our employees are also demanding to be paid part of their salaries in foreign currency; so we do not take it lightly when we collect US$1 million in foreign currency to support service delivery,” he said.

 

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