People with vested interests in irish potato cultivation at Central Region Water Board’s (CRWB’s) Chikusile surface water source in Ntcheu are said to be the reason water supply is inadequate and erratic in Ntcheu.
Speaking during a Kalondolondo interface meeting on water reliability in Ntcheu last Friday, CRWB, Dedza zonal manager, Samuel Bitoni, said the main problem why CRWB is failing to supply adequate water in Ntcheu was because people encroached into the catchment area.
“Farmers of irish potato, onions and other vegetables have encroached into our surface water source at Chikusile where they have diverted water from the source into their gardens,” Bitoni said.
Bitoni said CRWB is contemplating of sinking two more boreholes at Chiole in the short-run and construct a dam at Chikusile in the long-run.
Charles Baduya, Global Mobilisation project officer, said the research on the problem of water in Ntcheu primarily focused on unreliable water supply and shoddy water works due to unscrupulous contractors for Water Users Associations’ (WUA) schemes at Mtonda, Lizulu, Kambilonjo and Gongolo.
“Water supply in Ntcheu is intermittent that some areas can go for two months with dry taps due to encroachment at the surface water source,” Bitoni said.
He said a huge area has been encroached in the protected forest reserve preventing CRWB from adequately supplying the water in Ntcheu.
Ntcheu Police publicist, Hastings Chigalu, said stakeholders should not go around the issue but be forthcoming.
Chigalu said police were being hired to watch over the protected area to prevent encroachers from diverting water from the source but that stopped.
“We did our best to prevent people from diverting water meant for the town and we made several arrests but pressure was mounting on the police to release those responsible,” Chigalu said.
He said some CRWB officials were conniving with the encroachers to warn them of police presence and so they would water their plants in time.
According to reports, some rivers in Ntcheu have sources in Malawi but end up into Mozambique and these people come at night to block the intake so that the water is diverted into their fields.