Chinhoyi Fails To Court Investor For US$20m Water Project

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

CHINHOYI, which is perennially facing acute water shortages amid reports it is losing an estimated 62,5% of treated water due to obsolete infrastructure and vandalism, is failing to get an investor to fund the water reticulation system upgrade.

The capital project, which has been on the drawing board for over a decade, is estimated to cost US$20 million.

Chinhoyi Municipality spokesperson, Tichaona Mlauzi revealed to the local authority had twice flighted the tender for the project, but it did not have any takers.

This leaves the council with a desperate option to divert intergovernmental transfer allocations, commonly known as devolution funds, towards a phased development of the water system, which includes a treatment plant, reservoirs, and distribution pipes.

Mlauzi said: “Following the flighting of tenders on two occasions, we didn’t get any responses whatsoever. We had included the incentive for a build-operate-transfer (BOT) deal which still couldn’t attract any contractor.

“The huge cost of foreign currency could be deterring investors. We are now looking at the inflows of devolution funds which we will use to resuscitate our water system.”

Currently, the Mashonaland West provincial capital treats 24 megalitres of water daily against an optimum of 30 megalitres.

Mlauzi added: “Our infrastructure is obsolete, for example, the Hunyani water works were built in 1996 and have not undergone incremental upgrades to meet the growth in the population of the town.”

According to the latest Auditor-General’s (AG) report, a huge volume of potable water, in Chinhoyi, was lost due to pipe bursts, leaks, and illegal connections.

Some of the town’s 15 wards such as Shackleton and Alaska have gone for more than 20 years without taped water.

According to the latest AG’s report, the suburbs had a total 1 694 households without access to potable water.

In Rujeko suburb, 365 out of its 380 households did not have water accounts which means the local council was losing potential revenue from households not billed for water usage.

These undocumented users were benefitting from illegal connections done by errant plumbers from the errant local council, and private.

Mlauzi said stakeholder engagements were ongoing to identify private partners for water augmentation, and curbing vandalism of the reticulation system by residents harvesting water for gardening and other domestic uses.

The council spokesperson reiterated water conservation by the town’s estimated 114 000 residents could translate to realisation of 200 litres per capita (person) daily and curtail further water losses.