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Zaranj faces water scarcity

Monitoring Desk

ZARANJ: Residents of this capital city of southwestern Nimroz province say a $21.5 million water supply network has failed because 35 percent of the city inhabitants still lack access to clean drinking water.

They say former president Hamid Karzai ordered the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) in 2012 to execute Qala-i-Fath Water Supply Network project in Chahar Burjak district of Nimroz after people faced acute shortage of water there. Despite spending millions of dollars on this project, still every third family in Zaranj city still do not have access to drinking water, according to local people.

Water is currently supplied to people through private tankers in some areas of Zaranj, but the water is not healthy.

Ghulam Sakhi, a resident of Zaranj, told Pajhwok Afghan News he spent more than 6,000 afghanis to obtain a license for installing the water meter in his house, but he was yet to receive a single drop of water from the project.

He said they had several times visited the Water Supply Utility for resolving their problem, but officials there always told them they could not supply water to all people due to low water pressure.

Abdul Hamid, a resident of fourth police district of Zaranj, also said the water supply network project had failed as many people in the city still lacked access to clean water. “We are facing an acute shortage of water, I and one of my friends bought a water pump to transfer water from one area to another, but it did not help and,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gul Ahmad, a provincial council member, told Pajhwok that Qala-i-Fateh Water Supply Network was 45 kilometers away from Zaranj city and it did not provide enough water to people. He said pumps of two among six deep wells that supplied water to Zaranj city were not working.

Eng. Shah Wali, Nimroz Water Utility head, acknowledged the water network project had problems in the beginning because it had not been properly surveyed and designed. The engineers who worked on the project planned water supply for 200,000 residents of Zaranj while the city’s population was 300,000 Friday, he said.

He said the engineers had divided the project into two phases — deep wells and pipes — but the contractors failed in both the phases. In the phase one, eight deep wells had to be dug to pump 1,200 cubic meters of water, but the contractor created only six wells, Shah Wali said, adding the six deep wells provided water to only 50,000 people.

The contractor for the second phase — extension of pipes from wells to the city –has also failed to properly execute the project, Wali said, adding construction of a 27-meter high water reservoir with the capacity of 500 cubic meters to was part of the second phase.

However, Eng. Farid Azim, head of Rural Rehabilitation and Development Department, rejected his claims and said the water network project was properly implemented and then handed over to the Water Utility last year. He said poor management and shortage of personnel in the Water Utility caused the project to face problems. Around $800,000 has been taken as guarantee from the contracted companies and the money cannot be returned if the project faces issues, Azim said.

Local officials say a team for assessing the project has arrived from Kabul to Nimroz.

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