City of Harare is rehabilitating the Morton Jaffray water treatment works in an effort to reach its original capacity of producing 614 megalitres per day.
The work should mean an increase in output of 160 megalitres a day. It is currently only producing 450 megalitres.
The rehabilitation is being made possible by a $144 million loan that has been availed to Council by the China Export-Import Bank.
The project will take three years to complete and will see municipality engineers working with 46 Chinese engineers who have been seconded to Harare under the loan facility.
The rehabilitation will not end the City’s water woes, however it should have a positive impact on residents who have been subjected to dry taps over the years.
City of Harare director of water services, Engineer Christopher Zvobgo says that Harare still has a long way to go towards achieving the required water capacity.
“Even after completion of the rehabilitation we will not be able to meet Harare’s demand. There is still a shortfall, that is why we need to identify other sources,” he explains.
According to Dr Tendai Mahachi, the City’s town clerk, Harare requires 900 megalitres. Other organisations, such as Harare Residents’ Trust, disagree and put the daily water requirement at 1,200 megalitres.
Simbarashe Moyo, Chairman of Combined Harare Residents’ Association, said the rehabilitation of the Morton Jaffray water treatment works was not a holistic solution to the water problem but is nevertheless a delayed step in the right direction.
“As residents we expect the municipality to always plan ahead instead of waiting more than 30 years to match population growth with commensurate services,” said Moyo.
In the past, city fathers have talked about plans to construct new water treatment plants at Kunzvi Dam, Musami Dam and Mazowe Dam, projects that are said to require $2.5 billion to undertake.
“We have always been hearing about the Kunzvi Dam as the panacea to our water woes but this is now almost like the much talked about Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project which has failed to take off since 1912,” Moyo pointed out.
Some residents feel that council should be looking for alternative ways to eradicate the water problems, as the rehabilitation will not have a significant impact on Harare’s growing population.
Irene Manhango (37) from Tafara said that she was not convinced that the rehabilitation would have much of an impact on residents, “It is good that water supplies will improve but I think the amounts they are talking about are too small to make a significant improvement to our situation.”
Minor rehabilitation work will also be done at the Prince Edward Water Treatment Plant which currently produces 70 megalitres per day against a capacity of 90 megalitres per day.
The city’s municipality has been increasingly struggling to provide adequate water supplies to the more than two million residents in the city. This number rises to over four million when its satellite towns are taken into account.Harare supplies water to Chitungwiza, Ruwa, Norton and Epworth. Restoration of the two plants will come as a great relief to residents.