Over 70 of Bulawayo’s schools are operating without water after the council disconnected supplies due to non-payment of rates, Sunday News reported.
The schools reportedly owe the council a combined $100 million while those connected are having to make do with intermittent supplies owing to water shedding.
The Bulawayo City Council says 72 of the city’s 86 schools that are not run by the local authority had their water supplies disconnected in August during the school holidays.
Most of the affected schools are government schools.
Bulawayo City Council’s Financial Services Department Director Mr Kimpton Ndimande told Sunday News last week that some schools had come forward to make payment plans and have since had water supplies restored.
However, 41 schools are still dry.
Ndimande said the city was forced to take drastic measures after multiple attempts to encourage the schools to pay had failed. Ndimande said::
We don’t want to disrupt their programmes. Those children are our children and we want them to learn. Therefore, the decision to suspend water supply during the holiday was meant to give the school an opportunity to regularise its standing way before schools open so that by the time the term resumes, water supply would have been restored and learning was not disrupted. However, it is unfortunate that we have tried numerous times to engage most of the schools on their debt, however, they have not been forthcoming, we then came to the decision of disconnecting water supplies in order to encourage them to pay.
He said his department was considering engaging the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education provincial office on the matter and said in previous years, the ministry had intervened and made schools pay.
Bulawayo City Council Acting Finance Manager Revenue in the Financial Services Department Mr Euther Siziba said the water disconnection exercise had helped the council to recover $21 million since August.
He said the 41 schools that had not yet made efforts to pay or make an arrangement included Hugh Beadle, Milton Junior, Sobukhazi, Lobengula Secondary, Mpopoma High School, Lochview, Trenance, Newmansford, Amaswazi, Sikhulile, Helemu and Fusi Primary.