Public express disdain on Blantyre Water Board’s negligence

* It is a growing concern with most utility companies with BWB being the most culprit

* They are expected to seek permission from City Council dig up a road to repair their underground systems

Blantyre Water Board (BWB) as well as most utility companies have been faulted of negligence at their disregard of reinstating state of tarmac roads damaged after repair works of their underground systems.

On social media, the public expressed its disdain to this attitude problem, saying Councils should strongly punish these service providers for such negligence.

According to Blantyre City Council public relations officer, Anthony Kasunda, a utility service provider “is expected to first seek permission [from the Council] before doing any digging” on a part of a tarmac road.

Kasunda: BWB must seek permission before digging up roads

Kasunda said such a utility service provider, in this case BWB, “is expected to repair the damage [and] in the case of roads, BWB is supposed to leave it the way it was originally”.

“Where they cannot, the Council has requested BWB to provide financial resources for the works,” Kasunda said.

This comes after what BWB did and did not in the past two weeks. For the past two months, there had been leakages on a BWB pipeline at Malabada in Ndirande and the Board only went to repair the troubled spot after another massive leakage took place right in the middle of the area’s tarmac road — just a few meters from the original fault spot.

The BWB plumbers repaired the leaking pipelines but they left a huge mound of soil on the road blocking half of it and the residents thought they would come back later to bury the pipeline.

They also left the other spot in bad shape forcing motorists to veer off onto the side road just close to shops.

After this reporter alerted the Board through pictures of the scene and asked if this was their final work, the response was rapid as the staff returned but only to bury the open pipeline they repaired.

Blantyre City roads potholes

It’s now over a week since the Board’s public relations office was furnished with questions, asking if BWB is aware that they are supposed to repair the affected tarmac road into its original state.

We also wanted to know if BWB sought permission before doing the digging and also if it provided financial resources to the City Council to do the repair works on its behalf.

The BWB PR office was also made aware that the leakages were reported to them by the Malabada residents themselves yet the faulty spot is just a few meters from BWB’s water Chamber 79 plant.

Its staff visit this water chamber constantly and there was no way they could have failed to take notice of the leakages because residents around the area were harvesting the water that was gushing out of the spot.

Responding on Facebook, Chandiwira Chisi observed that this negligence tendency “is a growing concern with utility companies” while Mateyu Sisya added voice to say they “can be taken to task under the rule in Rylands v Fletcher” since “they have brought a nuisance that was not there before”.

Isaac Luwinga Singini said: “These so called utility ‘digging’ service providers are so careless in the way they carry out their tasks that they even risk lives of the general public.

“They dig and abandon — satisfied. [And] they go for more challenging ‘dig and abandon’ projects.”

Patrick Chalusa gave an example of a spot at Maselema light industrial area, that “for three years [BWB] had not covered it until a certain company was upgrading its building and the broken bricks were slotted there”.

Mzuzu-based Chiza Nyirongo responded to says that it’s not just BWB but “it’s the same up here with Northern Region Water Board or these people fixing ground cables for internet!”

The state they left the pipeline

“Our City Councils are sleeping on the job! This is the time to penalize these service providers.”

To which Mapopa Williams responded by giving an example that while working for an international outdoor advertising firm in Botswana, they were to elect some gantries along some roads.

“Upon digging foundation holes and leaving them open with all precaution paraphernalia, someone ended up in one of the ditches (his car fell into the hole). We were taken to task and had to pay for repairs of the car and some hospital bills for the injured dude.

“Here, no one would sue companies. Just check the walkway at Clock Tower near MCP offices — almost 3 manholes don’t have covers. If one falls in them they will just fend for themselves without compensation from the owners of the manholes. I would surely sue for negligence.”

Mapopa also shared his experiences at the same Clock Tower when he observed that part of the road had been clogged with silt for two months he “talked to Council officials and asked them to remove this or I would mobilise my people to remove it”.

He said he later received a picture from the Council official informing him that repair works had began.

Nancy Masangwi asked why the Council does not engage with the utility companies to plan together and then build simultaneously to avoid digging up ready-made roads, which “is wastage of resources.”

Citizens demand better services not rubbish!

To which Kondwanie Chirembo responded that the Council is not mostly at fault but the utility companies: “I once worked in Blantyre City roads department, that was around 2000. NRA had just implemented rehabilitation of some roads in Blantyre.

“We organised meetings with MTL, ESCOM and BWB to discuss how best to provide for their services without damaging the newly rehabilitated roads [but] within a week of agreeing in the meeting, MTL and BWB were already digging into the newly rehabilitated roads!

“There’s an attitude problem with these other service providers. Of course, this can be pre-empted but it could cost money and service providers are unwilling to meet that cost.

“Where I would agree with you is the lack of punitive actions for such destruction. Councils should financially punish these service providers

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Ndirande Malabada, Ismail Rizzq Mkumba agreed that “these companies need to be sued indeed. Who do they expect will fix the damage they have caused?” He promised to take up the matter.

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3 years ago

Blantyre City Council cannot take any action against BWB because they owe the water utility company a huge amount of unsettled bill, Once they attempt to do that,it will open a pandora box and BWB will disconnect the water supply to the Council.

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