A HEALTH time bomb is ticking in Rusape, amid revelations that the local authority this week embarked on aggressive water disconnections by tampering with water metres and stuffing 'dirty' plastics to block water passage instead of metre locks.
The local authority is owed about $3 million, for the period spanning from 2009 to December 2011. This has curtailed the local authority's capacity to offer standard civic services and decent salaries for its employees.
The Rusape Residents and Ratepayers Associations and health experts have criticised the local authority for prioritising money at the expense of the residents' health.
The methodology has been criticised as a recipe for disaster as the 'stuffed blockades' could be contaminated.
The development has exacerbated water woes in the town's residential suburbs.
In some instances, residents could be seen fighting for front positions in the long and winding queues for water in Vengere.
Residents were querying the wisdom of the council to embark on such an enormous exercise without the necessary locking utensils.
"We are not opposed to the exercise, but rather the methodology. The council must use locks, and stop tampering with water metres in whatever way and for whatever reason," said the RRRA chairman, Mr Martin Chaburumunda.
"That is a potential health hazard. They are creating a health time bomb. Where are they getting the plastics and papers? Who certified them clean? Do they meet the health standards?
“A pipe is like a bottle, once you put anything dirty inside it, the impact will always be felt. We condemn the practice.
"The norm is that you lock the metres without tampering with it. There is great risk of smuggling viruses into the water pipes and the consequences can be dangerous. We call on the health officials to intervene," he added.
RTC is desperately mobilising financial resources to meet civic and workers demands.
The local authority was only last week granted a reprieve by the High Court after its road equipment, two pick-ups , an ambulance and the two small cars had been attached by the local Deputy Sheriff to recover at least $200 000 it owes its workers.
The acting RTC secretary, Mr Darlington Museka, confirmed the disconnections adding that it was a "revenue mop up exercise."
Mr Museka expressed surprise at the methodology being employed.
"That is a routine exercise to improve our revenue so that we are able to meet our obligation both as a local authority and employer. We are owed close to $3 million and we are encouraging residents to pay up so that we can function efficiently.
“If that is what they are doing, then it is not proper. It's embarrassing," said Mr Museka.
The RTC chairman, Mr Phillip Kamunda, on Wednesday said the council had not made a resolution to that effect and was not aware of the methodology being implemented.
He promised to investigate the issue.
"We have not made any resolution to that effect and we are not aware of it. Maybe it is a management strategy of debt recovery. Maybe they want to raise money, but I will find out with the town secretary and see how we can go about it," said Mr Kamunda.
Mr Chaburumunda also accused the RTC of failing to communicate the latest position to the residents and of failing to rationalise its billing system.
"Some of the bills are unrealistic because some areas have been without water for years, but the council has been billing the residents.
“We are encouraging our members to only pay for what they have used, not unrendered services. The same residents are being caught in the crossfire, yet the council must first correct these anomalies so that residents know the exact outstanding monies," he added.-Manica Post