City of Harare’s waste water department has been applauded by residents for their efficient response to burst sewer pipe reports made through social media platforms.
In an effort to improve engagement and reporting, this year has seen council active on Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook.
According to correspondence from 8 October on council’s Whatsapp platform, a Highfield resident sent a report of a sewer blockage at 00:52am. At 10:55am the next day, the same resident sent another message to council, thanking them for their swift response as the blockage had been attended to.
Council’s waste water manager, Engineer Simon Muserere said that council was doing all it could to attend to sewer blockages and urged residents to continue reporting faults via social media platforms.
“Every day sewer blockages average ten per suburb and response time is eight hours on average. However, resources such as service vehicles, plant equipment and sewer rods are inadequate. The availability of resources will obviously improve our response time but what is important is for residents to always report burst sewer pipes on the available Whatsapp numbers,” said Muserere.
Dorothy Mavolwane, the city’s principal customer relations officer who manages one of the Whatsapp lines, said that council adopted social media as it creates better, cheaper and effective interaction between the local authority and residents.
“Reports made via social media are very effective because they automatically provide council with a record of the reports. We are in the process of creating Whatsapp groups for all wards. On these platforms residents will be able to communicate with directors and the acting town clerk as who will be part of these groups,” revealed Mavolwane.
One resident from Msasa Park who regularly uses social media platforms to interact with council said that residents should not underestimate the power of social media as it has enabled people to get good service without having to go to council offices.
“I am no longer using the social media platforms to only report faults. I can now even check my account statement from wherever I am,” said the resident who refused to be named.
Unfortunately, it seems some residents are not yet familiar with council’s social media outreach. Esther Chimanikire the lobby and advocacy officer for Harare Residents Trust (HRT) acknowledged the improvements in council’s response to sewer issues, but said that the majority of residents were still relying on phone calls to report faults.
“They (council) have improved in the way they respond to burst sewer pipes and we are receiving fewer complaints concerning this issue. However, this is not to say that they are responding to all areas in promptly because we have areas like Mufakose that can go for weeks with unattended burst sewer pipes. Also, from what we have gathered so far, not many residents are aware of council’s Whatsapp platform,” said Chimanikire.
Communication between council and residents has been a major problem in the past leading to some faults going for days without being reported. However, social media has presented an effective communication tool that should be used by all residents, service providers, and government departments, to improve service delivery.
Council social media platforms:
Whatsapp – 0774823230, 0732823230, 0718823230
Facebook page – The City of Harare
Website – www.hararecity.co.zw
Twitter – @cohsunshinecity