Gogo Ncube (63) of Mkoba 18 suburb in Gweru wakes up every morning with a fresh headache of where she would get water.
This is because the taps in her house, as elsewhere in the city, ran dry in June.
From that time, Gogo Ncube wakes up and heads to a leaking council water valve in Mkoba 15, a few kilometres away from her home.
At this valve, she takes turns with other residents to scoop the leaking water using a container.
Every morning she fills three 20-litre buckets and it’s a struggle for her again to carry it home.
She take the buckets home one after the other and says she uses the water for cooking, washing and bathing.
When a Chronicle news crew visited the site where the leaking valve is located near Mkoba 15 shops popularly known as Toyo, Gogo Ncube and other residents were very uncomfortable because they said publishing the story would alert council engineers that there was a leaking valve and it will be fixed, closing their water source.
Gogo Ncube and fellow residents said once that happens they would be doomed; they don’t know where else they would get water.
Council is struggling to provide services in the City of Progress.
Like in other towns and cities across the country, residents go for days without water, while garbage goes for months uncollected.
“We get water from this unprotected source. It’s a council valve which is leaking but we take hours to fill three buckets. So, I come here very early and wait for my turn because there is no other way.
This is our everyday life in Mkoba 18 because we have dry taps. We have no choice but come here well aware of the dangers of water-borne diseases because this source is not protected,” said Gogo Ncube.
“We are really not keen to have this story published because council might come and fix this leaking valve and we will be forced to look for far worse water sources.”
Some residents have resorted to fetching water from council boreholes but a number have dried up while at others the water level is now very low. This means that residents are now spending more hours at the boreholes to get it.
Council constructed an elevated water tank at the edge of Village 14 which was supposed to supply water to suburbs on high ground such as Mkoba 15, 18, 19 and 20. The tank was functional for a short period before it broke down.
More desperate residents have resorted to digging wells at their homes and a number of them are selling the water from the wells.
Mr Tinashe Muwani is one of those who sells water after he dug a well at his house in Mkoba 18.
He sells 20litres for US$1 or Z$100, an amount that is far beyond the reach of many residents who are even failing to settle their water bills and have other pressing needs.
“It wasn’t my intention to sell the water from my well but I was forced to take that measure following a surge in the number of residents who wanted water. So, to cut their numbers and avoid being disturbed I started selling the water,” said Mr Muwani.
In an interview, GCC public relations officer Ms Vimbai Chingwaramuse said their two main supply dams are fast drying up.
Amapongokwe Dam, constructed in 1960, is now at 35 percent full from 38 percent last month while Gwenoro Dam, built in 1984, is at 15 percent.
Suburbs such as Mkoba One, 15, 18 and 19, Ascot Infill and Harben Park are going for months without water.
The council spokesperson said the development has forced residents to collect water from unsafe sources such as council swimming pools.
Ms Chingwaramuse said the local authority is experiencing serious water shortages which are caused by a number of factors that include low water levels due to prolonged and recurrent droughts, power outages and an aging and obsolete water reticulation system.
“Currently our raw water in our dams has greatly declined. We are pumping only 40 megalitres per day yet to supply the city we need 80 megalitres.
With such a pumping capacity, some high- lying areas may not receive water or may receive water but the pressure will be very low. Currently we are trying to find alternative water supply sources such as commercial boreholes.
We therefore urge our valued residents to use water sparingly,” said Ms Chingwaramuse.
She said council was looking for money to buy three high lift water pumps for Amapongokwe Dam to increase pumping capacity.
The dam’s water pumps and pipes have not been replaced since independence in 1980.
More than 40 percent of treated water is lost through leakages because of the ageing pipes.
Ms Chingwaramuse said council’s financial situation was dire because residents, Government departments and companies were not paying their bills.
She said it was illegal for people to dig wells at their homes without approval and people must first apply to council and an assessment is done.
Mayor Councillor Josiah Makombe said residents should use water sparingly so that the little water left in dams can take them to the next rainy season.
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