By Dumisani Nkomo (CEO, Habakkuk Trust)
Some residents from high lying areas in Pumula South in Bulawayo have gone for at least two weeks without tap water supplies forcing them to spend nights in water bowser queues.
The crisis comes at a time when the nation is grappling with the socio-economic impacts of the lockdown, which have been characterized by queues for essential commodities.
The affected area, known as the Ngwalongwalo area, has seen some residents sleeping in water queues with their containers waiting to access the precious liquid. Despite promises by Bulawayo City Council to consistently deliver water to the residents using water bowsers, the water is inadequate and the delivery schedule has not been followed.
Social distancing has been a major concern as residents crowd in a bid to maintain queues and keep sight of their containers.
Some residents have resorted to fetching water from open pits which were dug by the City Council along Ntemba Road.
“We have since resorted to fetching water for bathing and other household uses from pits along Ntemba road as the City Council bowser came once this week,” one of the affected residents said.
Some residents walk to the Habek area to access water from community boreholes.
The local authority recently implemented a 108-hour weekly water-shedding programme due to challenges at its reservoir and treatment plant. They indicated that some parts of Emganwini, Magwegwe and Pumula South will experience serious water challenges and going up to eight months without tap water supplies.
The water crisis is exposing residents to COVID-19 infection as hygiene standards are compromised. Bulawayo is currently regarded as the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic with 10 positive cases and 1 death recorded so far.