Stolen cables at pumps connecting a local water treatment plant have left thousands of residents in the Zambezi region without water. As a result, residents in the region have been flocking to the Zambezi River for water.
Many residents of Katima Mulilo complained to New Era the situation has become unbearable, as they are forced to face the risks head-on by bathing at the river as well as collecting water for household usage.
The water problem started last week, however, following inspection and fault finding, it was established that major cables, which connect and power the main water pumps at the river were stolen. Another pipe was also found broken within the town of Katima Mulilo.
This left many parts of the region without water, as the affected pumps are responsible for pumping water from the river to the NamWater treatment plant and reservoirs. From there, the water is then channelled to different areas in the region connected to the water utility’s grid.
According to the head of NamWater in Zambezi Joseph Mulisa, they made significant progress to restore the situation on Friday after receiving material and new cables that were procured from Windhoek. Residents received a bit of water in the wee hours of Saturday, as the reservoirs began to fill up.
However, taps were dry again in the morning after the replaced cables were later stolen just hours after the restoration. “We managed to fix and replaced the cables as of last week. However, these efforts were in vain as we established on Saturday after returning to the site that the new cables have been stolen again at one pump station,” stressed Mulisa. He expects the situation to return to normalcy by tomorrow.
“It has really now become a challenge because we are not getting these materials easily. We order from Windhoek, then the supplier also has to order outside the country. All these cause delays compounded by the Covi-19 situation,” he said. Mulisa added NamWater has opened cases of theft with the police and on Saturday, they managed to apprehend a suspect who was found at one of the affected sites, digging out cables.
“We have also opened a second case against this suspect, so we hope he will reveal his cohorts and who they supply to so that we crack down on these individuals or syndicate,” said Mulisa.
Meanwhile, Katima Mulilo mayor Lister Shamalaza said he was still acquainting himself with the situation on the ground.
“I will respond when I have consulted with the community and business fraternity the extent to which this had an effect. For now, it will be premature for me to speak on their behalf as I am not well acquainted with the severity thereof.”
Shamalaza said the water interruption has nothing to do with the town council but rather with NamWater.
“We understand the situation is being addressed, and we hope to get water as soon as possible,” he said.
Many Zambezi inhabitants who are connected to the water grid in rural areas say they have returned to the traditional ways of getting water from wells and boreholes.
“We are in trouble here, when will we have water? Because we cannot continue like this. We are forced to go deeper into villages to fetch water from traditional wells and boreholes. You might be aware this water is not entirely safe,” stressed a desperate resident of Bukalo, east of Katima Mulilo.
While those living south and west of the town in areas of Sibbinda as well as those leading to Linyati have also resorted to similar modes.
“Our town has this cancerous disease which has affected it for the past 31 years. Why don’t they have a backup plan? We have a poor administration. Something needs to be done, this can no longer be the case,” lamented another resident who declined to be named.