GWERU – The next door’s neighbor cock has just crowed. It’s 2 a.m and hurriedly taken is a brown floral colored doek (dhuku), used to cover the head of the receding hairline and that is being worn down by the long overdue box braids, with little stubborn hairs protesting as they pick out through the thick synthetic hair extensions. An African print cloth is tied tightly above the waistline.
Two used paint buckets whose outside appearance is scattered all over with scratches are taken immediately and the children pick up their old empty used two liter plastic bottles of drinks that have stickers clinging by the corner for placement on the bottle.
Dozens of women fill the dusty road with children as most of them are heading to the same destination which is just a few miles away not too far from where the precious liquid is located.
Fate of the majority has already been determined on arrival by the overcrowding and the long queues decorated with rainbow colored buckets of every form and shape that dominate the head of the line.
This means trudging further to another source which is a few miles away, on arrival it seems a stroke of luck has just struck, the queue seems better though but is growing by the minute and moves slowly like a snail.
It takes a lot of energy push down the rusty, old rough looking metal pump to draw up water from the of the borehole.
Holding tightly and firmly the buckets, clenching teeth, walking cautiously is essential for each drop counts and it is important not to drop any of it as it is a precarious mission to acquire it.
Taps in the home have not hissed or coughed with life for a while its only dead silence and squeak only when turned to reflect their presence.
Exhausted but the ancestors have interceded for those the valuable liquid, dozens of people are however still waiting their turn to collect the life-sustaining liquid
This is the everyday struggle Mkoba residents endure in order to access water.
The City’s water crisis is worsening by the day with Mkoba having gone for more than 30 days without water.
Water levels of the nearly parched earth dams have extremely reached lower levels, with Gwenoro dam which is the city’s main source of water currently having 15% low levels and the reserve dam Amapongokwe significantly declined to 35%.
Council still has maintained that it would further tighten the water rationing amid the fact that Mkoba residents barely get water as drafted in the water rationing schedule.
“City of Gweru wishes to advise valued residents that there will be shutdown at the Range Booster. This interruption of water supply is to make way for City of Gweru and ZETDC electricians to service transformers. We apologise for any inconveniences caused,” is a monotonous message often sent from the town house.
The message is often followed by a completion of work message but alas, no water comes out of the taps in many parts of Mkoba.
Most homes now rely on communal taps, bowsers or contaminated sources of water.
“We no longer know what tap water looks like here. It’s a struggle especially in this COVID-19 period where we are supposed to be practicing best hygiene measures but once we reach the borehole, no one cares about social distancing to say the least,” said Tatenda Tativhu, a Mkoba 1 resident.
“What is more frustrating is the fact that those with resources have now monetized the crisis and they are selling water to residents,” she added.
“Our colleagues were recently arrested but council never acted upon the looming disaster. Worse still, our local councilors’ house (Edison Kurebgwaseka) has water always, and a few houses surrounding his place, but he never assists us. We are in trouble.
“we are also risking a lot of diseases. Imagine we have no toilets and open defecation has become the norm. Just being in a house without water is a challenge itself as in many times we are forced to recycle water we have used for other household uses,” said a lady only identified as Mai Brenda.
Recently, local women sent representatives to the Mayors’ office to formally file a complaint but to no avail as Councillor Josiah Makombe were reportedly out of town.
“The challenge is real and we hope the local authorities will try and provide residents with at least water boreholes to curb these shortages,” said Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) Coordinator Cornelia Selipiwe.
Council however says they are working flat out to resolve the water challenges being experienced by residents.
“Currently the city’s engineering team is on the ground trying to find a solution. The water rationing schedule will however be stricter for us to be able to supply water up until the next rainy season.
As a temporary measure, council is sending browsers upon request to affected areas. We are also looking for funding to drill commercial boreholes at an approximate cost of between USD1500 to USD2000 per borehole,” the City of Gweru public relations officer Vimbai Chingwaramusee said.
“We also plan to sink boreholes that will channel water through pumps to households. So far we have already done capacity testing with an NGO; Welt Hunger Hilfe which promised to sink a commercial borehole for us to ease the water challenge in the high lying areas”, she added.
Women pressure groups have often said females suffer more under these tragedies considering their nurtured roles in the home.