WUC to splash P3 billion on Ghetto’s water woes
Water Utilities Corporation’s (WUC) pledge to ‘keep it flowing’ in Francistown is under threat, with the persistent water cuts that have plagued the second city in recent months set to continue.
Addressing stakeholders at Adansonia Hotel this week, WUC General Manager, Modisaotsile Keetile, admitted the problem was a big one, caused by the old, dilapidated pipes that supply water across Ghetto and surrounding areas.
The underground pipes are the same that were installed in 1970, when WUC was originally formed as Water Affairs. They have never been updated.
Time has taken its toll on the 53-year-old pipes, which regularly burst, causing much disruption to the city’s water flow, with some areas going days without ‘metsi’.
“Our city’s recent water supply outage of more than a day or two is not due to a dry dam. Our pipes, which have been connected for over 50 years, are no longer coping with the system’s pressure and frequently burst, causing a water shortage in the city,” Keetile told his audience, a mixture of councilors, VDC members, and business owners.
It is a ‘crisis’ that will take a fortune to fix.
Despite his gloomy speech, the GM told his audience not to despair, promising WUC were ‘on it’, putting together ‘The Francistown Water Supply Master Plan’ to address the problem.
“We realized that repairing burst pipes is expensive, so we have decided to carry out a P3 billion project that will be implemented in the next fiscal year, with the mandate to rehabilitate and extend all pipes in Francistown and its surrounding areas,” revealed the WUC leader, a revelation that caused stunned gasps from all in attendance.
He further admitted it was impossible to put a time frame on how long the ‘Master Plan’ will take.
Moving away from aging pipes, Keetile noted the age-old issue of customers failing to pay their water bills was getting worse.
“One of the most concerning challenges to our operational services is debt. People are not paying their bills, which prevents us as an organisation from doing some of our projects that will improve service delivery to the nation,” he said, adding the Francistown Customer Service Facility, which also runs Selibe Phikwe, is currently owed P166 million.
Debtors include the public, businesses and the government.
Other obstacles Keetile mentioned that impede effective service delivery include: infrastructure limitations as the city grows and expands, and vandalism, particularly during the dry season in rural regions.
Finishing with some positive news, the GM said WUC’s water readings are now more accurate as they have stopped calculating client invoices based on the previous one and were taking monthly readings instead.