Zambia’s Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) is currently at risk of facing multiple lawsuits on account of the manner in which it addressed the water contamination issue. This is because the contamination of water in Lusaka is proof of the existence of grey areas in LWSC operations which need urgent attention.
Initially, LWSC denied the initial reports of water contamination in selected areas of the capital city. This is seen as a mistake since according to media reports, it would have been better had the company apologized first. They should also have explained to the consumers how it may have happened or what caused it and then moved in quickly to take corrective action.
Contrary to the action taken, the company ought to have owned up and do the right thing by sending its experts to the affected areas. The said experts would then proceed with conducting daily tests of chlorine to monitor contamination levels.
However, the denial of responsibility has only served to diminish LWSC’s credibility in the eyes of the people. Moreover, it is therefore no surprise that the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection and the Lusaka City Council have since come out strongly against LWSC.
Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Permanent Secretary Ed Chomba promised to take punitive action against the water utility while Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa criticized the company for its casual approach to such sensitive issues.
Similarly, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has authorized LWSC to demolish structures built on the water infrastructure, an initiative that no dount should have come from LWSC.
Last year, Zambia suffered a devastating cholera outbreak and most people are weary of a repeat occurrence. This is mostly due to the fact that unlike last year when vending was partly responsible for the outbreak of cholera, LWSC could be held responsible for such an incident.
Mitigation measures at the moment include the sensitization of resident on steps to take in order to prevent consuming contaminated water. This is in additional to giving regular and correct updates on the status of the water contamination should it recur.