As Blantyre residents and surrounding areas are still battling with persistent water woes, some Blantyre Press Club (BPC) members have accused of Blantyre Water Board (BWB) spokesperson Priscilla Mateyu of telling ‘lies’ regarding water problems, and have since asked to stop posting “lies’ on BPC social forum.
BWB has been assuring water users that water problems would be a thing of the past, but residents have gone weeks without water.
And on Saturday, Mateyu announced through BPC forum that BWB had started pumping water from Walkers Ferry and Mudi, but nothing has materialised.
“We expect most areas to start receiving water Sunday afternoon, 18th January and those at the furthest end by Monday,” said Mateyu.
Three days down the line, nothing has changed, most households in the southern region are still drawing water from unsafe sources for domestic use and others have been depending on rainwater.
It is at this point that some media practitioners, who have not been spared from the predicament, accused of her telling ‘lies’ through their forum.
“Admin, can you please ban any BWB update on this forum? As journalists we shudn’t be seen to be entertaining lies…” suggested former broadcaster Greyson Chapita, currently working at Liverpool Wellcome Trust.
According to him, Public Relations (PR) is about winning the general public’s trust not through lies but through honesty and mutual understanding.
“Just a reminder of her many lies before; Madam Mateyu told us that the water crisis in BT would be history by December 2014, before changing the month to January 2015. She changed again to say March 2015.
“Just today (Tuesday) on this forum she says it might even take a year. My questions are; Does the madam PR know what she is talking about? Maybe she works on assumptions and guess work? Can we be wrong to call her incompetent? Is she being told to lie to us by her bosses or naturally she is a liar? So many questions bothering my mind,” charged Chapita.
He further observed that BWB does not have good PR strategy, “no wonder the desperation to reach out to the media through this forum”.
“Come up with a good PR strategy not lies and invest in the implementation. Stop taking us for granted,” said Chapita.
While Alex Business seconded Chapita’s sentiments by stating “no more BWB updates on this forum; we have had enough lies from them.”
Several other members vented their anger stating that they will no longer “entertain your lies any more”.
Nation Publications Limited (NPL) reporter Ephraim Nyondo also said Mateyu’s updates are full of irregularities.
“We appreciate that the engineers are working around the clock but Madam PR shouldn’t go as low as lying to us,” said Nyondo.
However, Mateyu maintained that they started pumping water last Saturday, and that they are using one pump, as such they cannot supply to all areas.
“One thing people are failing to understand is that water is not like electricity where when you press a switch, lights are on everywhere.
“Even if we started pumping on saturday night and using one pump for that matter, its not that each and every household will get back water supply within hours or days. We even stressed the timeline of restoration that it will be gradual according to BT terrain,” said Mayetu.
She said with one pump instead of four, it can take even months or a whole year to fill up Blantyre City.
“That’s why since Sunday up until now we have been working hard to resume pumping on the other three pumps to make sure that there is enough water to distribute,” she added.
Mateyu further claimed that at the moment the Shire River levels are just ankle high as a lot of water has been drained by Escom to fix their own screens for power generation.
“I know its hard staying without water for an hour what more days. We feel your pain and we are really sorry for subjecting innocent lives to this kind of torture. But, trust me, the men and women working at the intake point are doing everything possible to make sure that water resumes in BT.
“However, I understand your anger of not wanting to see BWB posts again. I could feel the same if I were in your shoes. Be in my shoes as well for just a minute or rather take your time and make own judgement,” reasoned Mateyu.
But BPC members including Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) apparrently failed to come to terms with Mateyu’s claims.
Kapesa said “My humble request Madam PR: would you please list areas where there’s gradual restoration. We come from across Blantyre but it looks to me none has gotten a drop to drink. Which are these areas that have water?
“Secondly, which areas are you supplying with water bowsers? When? You used to run a water bowser distribution program I guess last year…where is it?
“As I had indicated in one of my earlier contributions on the issue I have a lot of respect for you personally; but as others have observed you’re lying to us.
“I am interested in areas that have a drop either from taps or bowser so I can get a pail too from those that I know in those privileged areas”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :