Massive water interruptions awaits Blantyre: Major rehabilitation works at Shire Walker’s Ferry

Blantyre residents should brace for tough times starting January till March 2014 as Blantyre Water Board (BWB) embarks on a massive rehabilitation work at its Walker’s Ferry Pumping Station.

For three months residents of the commercial city as well as Blantyre rural will for the most part have little or no water as supply will be interrupted due to BWB’s multi-million rehabilitation works aimed at dealing with the persistent water shortages.

BWB Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andrew Thawe, told journalists on a tour to the pumping station after the rehabilitation works there will be enough water for the customers during the next five years.

“We are appealing to Blantyre resident to bear with us during the rehabilitation works which will include upgrading the Walker’s Ferry and Chileka Pumping Station.

“The rehabilitation will ensure that there is enough water to meet consumers’ demand for the next five years. During this period Blantyre residents will experience serious water interruptions,” explained Thawe.

He said the interruptions in water supply will be as a result of some old equipment being removed to be replaced with new ones.

The works will include replacement of pumps, motors and all accessories in the pumping halls to upgrade production capacity from the current 74,400m3 /day to 96,000m3/day.

The rehabilitation will also include rehabilitation of the twin pipelines, according to Thawe who hinted that most of the major equipment and goods for the project have already been delivered.

“The project scope mainly includes improvement of operational efficiency and implementation of investment programme that includes rehabilitation and renew of water production facilities at Walker’s Ferry,” he said, insisting that water supply to low-income areas will greatly improve at the end of the project.

BWB has also started construction of additional three storage reservoirs and associated appurtenances at Kameza, Chigumula and Chimwankhunda areas.

Thawe said with the increased production the idea is to have adequate storage so that supplying to areas that are currently not covered starts.

However, considering that the project will take long to be executed, BWB has lined up a number of short interventions to mitigate the problem.

For instance, BWB has been exploring ground water as well as surface water sources in some areas to pump to places that are already affected with the inadequacy of the Shire Walker’s Ferry source.

The exploration of ground water and surface water sources was already done in Mpemba, Lunzu, Nguludi, Bvumbwe, Kachere, Bangwe and Chilomoni.

Some of the projects already underway have been made possible with funding from the European Union and World Bank.

Currently, BWB faces many challenges like paying total electricity costs of lifting water from Shire River at Walker’s Ferry to Blantyre at an amount of M264 million per month which is about 55 per cent of the Board’s total operating costs.

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