Lusaka residents residing in the National Housing Authority (NHA) Complex in Nyumba Yanga area have threatened to sue Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) for supplying them with contaminated water.

In an interview, on behalf of other affected residents, secretary for the NHA Nyumba Yanga complex Ivy Brown said from the data collected so far from 41 of the 350 houses in the complex, 105 people were affected by the water contamination.

Brown revealed that Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation Permanent Secretary Eddie Chomba, who is a resident in the complex, is also following up the matter with LWSC.

The water utility initially denied widespread social media reports last week that water supply in the area was contaminated, but then later reversed their position to acknowledge the contamination.

“From the data collected so far, from about 41 houses, the total number of affected people is coming to 105, although I am still compiling the list. I have just assured the people that we should be able to get back to everybody by 18:00hrs. Initially, we couldn’t confirm that the water was contaminated until we got a report from one of our executive members that, actually, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company had confirmed that the Water was contaminated with faecal matter, despite them denying yesterday (Thursday). So far, they have been going round distributing Chlorine, not only to the affected households, but to everyone,” Brown told News Diggers!

She revealed that the affected residents had resolved to sue LWSC for supplying them with contaminated water.

“The next move is that after confirmation from them that the water has been contaminated, we are planning to litigate. So, we are writing down names, house numbers and each house is giving us the number of people affected by the contamination. So, we are trying to litigate through that. At least we have lawyers who are residents within the complex, and they are willing to help us on that one,” Brown explained.

She said LWSC had told them to clean the water tanks using their means, but argued that if the company is responsible for the contamination, it must meet the cost of cleaning.

“They have told us to clean our water tanks because of the water shortages in this area, most people have water tanks. So, they have told us to clean the water tanks and they have provided the chlorine. But our argument on that is that, if they have agreed themselves that it’s their sources that contaminated our water tanks, why should it be me to pay the person who is coming to clean it up? So, clearly speaking, it’s them who must meet the cost! I understand Bishop Chomba (PS Ministry of Water Development and Sanitation), who is also a resident of this complex, is making a follow-up on this case,” Brown disclosed.

But LWSC Marketing and Public Relations Manager Patson Phiri said the water utility suspects construction works going on in the area caused the contamination.

Speaking when he featured on a live discussion programme on Millennium Radio 90.5FM, Phiri, however, assured residents in other parts of Lusaka that they would not be affected by the contamination.

“We carried out the tests, we were testing water from all the sources, including the taps. We were opening taps, even in the houses in terms of collecting samples. The water we collected from the taps was clean; the water we collected from the reserve tanks was clean; the water we were collecting from the boreholes was clean as well. So, the source of contamination can only be through the transmission line. There are a lot of construction works in those areas, and we have been battling with the issue of mending pipes using our technical team. So, it’s just human activities that we suspect, and these human activities include those commercial activities, and also the possibility of people wanting to expand their houses without consulting the (Lusaka City) Council. So, we suspect that several activities that have taken place over the past one month could be responsible for this particular incident,” Phiri explained.

“So, we are going to investigate comprehensively until we locate the source of contamination and we are going to give information in a clear and transparent manner, we don’t hide information. Whatever the results, we will be as transparent as we have always been.”

He said that the water being supplied to the affected areas was safe as they have increased the chlorine dosage.

“The Water as of today is very safe. What we did after detecting the contamination was that we increased the dosage of chlorine, the second thing is that we have advised that [those] who stored water in their tanks to let it go and allow fresh water to come in. The water that is coming out right now as I speak has got an enhanced level of chlorine and can even help to purify the tanks,” Phiri added.

He assured residents in other parts of Lusaka that they would not be affected by the contamination.

“The rest of the city, we don’t have any problem; we only have a problem in three areas, which are serviced by two boreholes. The two boreholes remain safe, but it is the pipelines that service those areas that we are suspecting. We want to assure the residents of Lusaka that they are safe,” said Phiri.