Residents’ victory as court orders Harare city to deliver clean water daily

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE High Court Tuesday ordered government and the City of Harare to urgently take concrete steps to improve water supplies to residents in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent national lockdown to prevent its further spread.

This comes after the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) approached the High Court seeking an order to compel the local authority to supply constant clean, safe water to residents.

The application yielded immediate results as city authorities, the Finance and Local Government as well as Health ministries consented to the provisional order sought by the group.

The matter was heard before Justice Zhou, who asked the parties to come to an agreement, as it was clear that the applicant’s demands were merited.

The order compelled the Harare City Council to produce a schedule for the immediate deployment of water bowsers to communities and the schedule should be sent to CHRA and its lawyers within 24 hours.

It also compelled the city fathers to fix all broken boreholes within the city as well as produce a maintenance schedule within 24 hours and to provide marshals at water points so as to monitor compliance to social distancing recommended as a measure to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The High Court also ordered the Finance Ministry to urgently release funds to purchase water chemicals for the city.

The Local Government and Health ministries did not argue and their lawyer agreed to fully comply with the order.

In its application, CHRA argued that as residents continued to gather at central water points such as boreholes and other communal water sources, it was very probable that due to pressure for limited water, the guidelines on social distancing will not be observed.

The residents’ association was being represented by Women in Law in Southern Africa (WLSA).