BY NQOBANI NDLOVU BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) yesterday said it did not have the funds to urgently address the issue of water contamination in Luveve and surrounding suburbs, which resulted in the loss of 13 lives and infection of over 1 000 residents with diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery. Council said it urgently required US$1 482 000 to address water contamination problems in the affected suburbs. Town clerk Christopher Dube told Southern Eye that the council did not have the money to urgently implement the sewer and water works rehabilitation programme in the affected districts. “We don’t have the money. Some of the materials have to be imported, that is why we quoted the figure in United States dollars because it does not fluctuate,” he said. The targeted projects include rehabilitation of the outfall sewer line (US$1,2 million), repair of all water and sewer service connections (US$250 000), pipe laying and replacement (US$25 000), repair of the reclaimed line (US$5 000) and pipes and fittings (US$2 000). In the immediate term, the local authority revealed that it would be back-filling all unprotected hand-dug wells and their use would be strongly discouraged. “We have a mandate to carry out this work as the council. The project has to be done, but the sad reality is that there is no money,” Dube added. “Payments to the council are erratic. People are not paying their rates and again, inflation is rising at an alarming rate. However, the money has to be found. We have to do it, that is why we are here as a council.” The latest council finance and development committee report shows that the financially-squeezed local authority was owed $383 519 064 by ratepayers as of April. Government departments owe council $17 440 652, industrial and commercial debtors $136 637 286, parastatals $10 304 153 and residents $219 136 973. According to council’s engineering services department, Bulawayo’s water and sewer infrastructure has outlived its lifespan. “The infrastructure is over 50 years old and has not had any water quality challenges. The 144-hour shedding strained the already aged network, further complicating the system and reducing its ability to self-cleanse due to prolonged hours of no water in the network …,” the report reads.