The latest audit report by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has revealed that the majority of residents in Zimbabwe’s major urban areas are drinking sewage-contaminated water due to poor management systems by local authorities.
Audit findings from an assessment by the Auditor-General on six major cities in the country for the period 2013 to 2017 indicated that failure to attend to sewer blockages timeously resulted in the contamination of drinking water and outbreaks of waterborne diseases. Chiri said:
The assessment of the urban local authorities’ management of sewerage system revealed a number of weaknesses which contributed to the increase in the number of sewer blockage complaints from consumers.
If local authorities fail to attend to blockages within the stipulated eight to 24 hours, raw sewage is lost into the environment before reaching the treatment plants, thereby contaminating water bodies.
According to interviews conducted, engineers cited that they were doing more of reactive maintenance rather than planned maintenance.
Chiri also noted that local authorities do not have modern equipment and technologies for sewer system inspection and maintenance.
As a result, the government was losing about US$194 million annually owing to poor sanitation practices.
The Auditor-General urged urban local authorities to procure online equipment for sewer inspection to minimise sewer blockages.