VICTORIA FALLS councillors have called for the resort town to be exempted from Zesa load shedding — which has also affected water supplies — and left the tourism hub with no electricity.
The town has gone for weeks without water due to the rolling power cuts, prompting the council to supply water to residents using bowsers.
The situation has affected tourism players such as hotels and lodges which cater for both international and domestic tourists.
Ward 1 councillor Margaret Varley, whose area of jurisdiction encompasses most of the resort town’s tourism players, wrote to the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Gabbuza Joel Gabuza calling for the load shedding exemption.
“As the Parliamentary chair of Energy, we are begging you to help us here in Victoria Falls. No electricity here means no water. Council has made moves to get a dedicated Zesa line for the water take out point on the Zambezi River, the water plant and also the two main reservoirs so that the town water is not affected by load shedding. However there seems to be a lot of talk and not much action,” wrote Varley on Monday.
Valley said Victoria Falls was the face of the country’s tourism industry and there was need to take advantage of tourist activities that brought in foreign currency, so the town deserved special treatment.
She added that lack of water supplies affected hotels and lodges, schools, clinics and hospitals.
“We are also looking at drilling boreholes around town. Imagine boreholes and water distribution from a fire engine when we live on the edge of one of the biggest rivers in Africa? All because of Zesa load shedding. Please use your influence to ensure that this matter is treated with the urgency it deserves and a solution to this water crisis is found before it’s too late,” said Valley.
Ward 6 councillor Ephias Mambume said it was logical for a place of strategic economic importance like Victoria Falls to be exempted from load shedding.
“It’s the tourism capital of Zimbabwe and a special economic zone. The gross domestic product (GDP) of Victoria Falls’ local economy is a significant part of the national GDP especially in real dollar terms. It generates mostly forex,” he said.
“An outbreak of typhoid or cholera can potentially cost the economy millions of the greenback in terms of tourism revenue and permanently dent the image of the country.”