The summers of our discontent PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 20 March 2015 13:59



I have lived in ZC for more than  50 years. From the start blackouts/brownouts had been a reality of life.  My recollection is that at that time power outages happened only at night and substitute light was provided basically by candles. Having grown up in another city, and having lived abroad where power outages were brought on only by an  occasional severe weather condition, a blackout was something new to me in the 60’s. Now it is some 50 years later and blackouts are still the reality. Have we not moved on?

This summer, as it has been most summers,  our city is having to cope with another lack and, to my mind,  a far more distressing situation: a shortage of water. I have talked with people who tell me of their unhappy situation for the past weeks or so when they have to stay up till dawn waiting for the water to come in their areas and they collect what they can for their use during the day.

Are these situations – no electricity and/or  no water  for regular periods of the day- the marks of a city in  2015?  They shouldn’t be. They mustn’t be.

Light and water are basics of every day living in this century and are supposed to be available when needed.  Unless one is a refugee  from the violence of the ISIS in Syria/Iraq or  the Boko Haram in Nigeria. Or an IDP because of Yolanda or the September siege in ZC.  Press your switch and light comes on; turn your tap and water flows. These are normal expectations. But here are many people in our city, not refugees, not IDPs,  who have to live with brown out and no-water situations  daily.

I understand that these situations are not desired  even by those who have the responsibility to provide electricity and  water.  My question though is: If not desired why then are we in these situations?

Over the years the cause for power shortage and also for dry water pipes has been traced to the El Niño phenomenon and more recently to  what is now routinely called “climate change”.  I do not dispute this. What I question is the seeming inability to plan and avert the impact of inadequate rain, in the area where the hydropower for our electricity is generated  and in the catchment areas for our water supply.

The El Niño phenomenon is not new. Neither is climate change. Scientists and  meteorologists have been  spreading the word for many years, enough time for serious planning and implementation to have been done to avoid the serious impact on the lives of people. My own observation is that the planning and implementation were either not done, or done rather poorly. Now we are all paying the price for our slow-footed ( slow thinking?) ways.