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Public Outcry as Bulawayo City Tightens Water Rationing

The water crisis in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo has reached precarious levels with the local council tightening its rationing measures and depriving residents of the precious liquid for three days a week.

For the past several months residents have had to endure a weekly two-day shedding routine, but the dwindling water levels have forced city engineers to propose tighter limitations.

The engineers told the council’s General Purpose Committee in a meeting Thursday that the situation in the city’s remaining three dams was getting worse.

As a result, an urgent full council meeting has been called for Friday to endorse the three-day rationing proposal.

Bulawayo lies in the heart of the semi-arid Matabeleland region.

A century-old ambitious plan to draw water from the Zambezi River to the city has remained a pipe-dream, though officials say the project is now underway.

Entumbane councilor Prince Dube told VOA while the local authority sympathizes with residents, it has no option but to resort to drastic action.

"If we don't do it," Dube said, "the city might run out of water before the next rain season."

He added that councilors have scheduled a meeting Friday with Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo to appeal for government assistance.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association expressed concern that tightening the water shedding regime was a recipe for diseases like cholera.

"Already residents have been reeling from the two-day rationing. Imagine what the situation will be like now that the council is increasing the days to three," said association director Rodrick Fayayo.