No power, no phones, no transport and no water

By Tererai Karimakwenda

20/07/07

“Just about everything is erratic, steadily getting worse and there seems to be no end in sight.” These were the words of reporter Jan Raath, describing life in Zimbabwe’s capital city on Friday. Raath said many areas are going for days at a time without electricity and this is affecting many other aspects of the daily routine, which rely on power.

Telephone communication is becoming increasingly difficult. Fixed lines are more reliable that the mobile networks, but the power cuts affect substations that operate on batteries. These need a steady supply of electricity to remain charged. Mobile lines are worse. The networks were over subscribed anyway and that problem has increased because of the forced reduction in costs, making access more affordable.

Then there is the transport nightmare. Raath said the government clampdown has made fuel even more scarce. And the price per litre is much higher than the reduced fares stipulated by government. Raath said 2 weeks ago fuel was selling at Z$180,000 per litre. It is now selling at Z$250,000 per litre.

Raath described the water supplies as “erratic”. He explained that a year ago most areas, including the low density suburbs, could count on a steady supply of water. Then months ago people were going for 2 to 3 weeks without water. Now many people are opening their taps and hearing that hissing sound that signals there is nothing but air.

Raath said he cannot claim that the system has totally collapsed, but at the current rate of deterioration total collapse is imminent.

 

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