...as residents ignore Covid-19 regulations
MASVINGO - Concerns have been raised over the emergence of ‘bowser queens’ who are now taking advantage of the water crisis in the city to arrogate themselves roles as coordinators of emergency supply points.
In high density areas especially Sisk (1st-6th streets), some women have gained notoriety for corruptly using their newfound powers to their own selfish advantage.
This came out during a Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) workshop on Strengthening Women's Advocacy for Inclusive Governance (SWAG) in Masvingo.
It was heard that the so-called ‘bowser queens’ give themselves and their friends special treatment at water delivery points.
Kesani Chihlangu, a WCoZ health cluster leader, said the bowser queens demand to get water first ahead of everyone else, by claiming that the water bowsers come as a result of their efforts.
“The bowser system is not workable especially in Sisk because a bowser is parked at certain houses where the owners get special treatment ahead of others. If you ask why they get such kind of treatment, they openly tell you that they themselves called the bowser driver so they deserve to get water first and without limit,” said Chihlangu.
Contacted for comment, Masvingo Mayor Collen Maboke said he had not received a formal complaint.
“I have not received a formal complaint over that issue of bowsers yet. However, a long time ago I once saw water being delivered in Second Street and I asked why it was not being done at the designated Border Grounds but I did not get a satisfactory answer. My office is open for any complaints, water should be delivered at public places not in houses,” said Maboke.
Complaints have also been raised over the bowser schedules some of which are in violation of curfew time which starts at 22:00hrs.
Residents’ pressure groups claim that women and youth are being harassed after fetching water from the bowsers and community taps late in the night or in the earliest hours of the day.
Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra) programs manager Rumbidzai Magurupira said the bowser system was commendable but called for the emergency water supplies services to be given during the day.
“While the bowser system has come in handy as a mitigation measure against the water shortages, we are concerned with the scheduling. The bowsers do not get to all areas in equitable fashion. We call for fairness and equity in the distribution system.
Magurupira implored council to put an end to the menace of water barons who are monopolizing water at delivery points.
“Another worry is that some individuals have become water barons and are monopolizing bowsers at delivery points, controlling and deciding who gets water. Council should put measures to stop these unscrupulous individuals and ensure that all residents get water on an equal and fair basis,” said Magurupira.
Others said the bowser water distribution points were possible coronavirus infection hotspots unless effective control measures were put in place.
Residents jostle for the precious liquid and fail to maintain social distancing while council fails to enforce ‘no mask no water’ rule.