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Beware Of Bogus Borehole Drillers In Zimbabwe

I have known Garikai Mwaruta since the mid of the last decade when I vigorously started pursuing my dream of drilling a borehole at my rural home in Guruve.

Then he was stationed in the upper floors of Karigamombe Building, fronting Whitedron Boreholes.

Efforts then to fund the drilling hit a brickwall as inflation became the order of the day. Then this year, some seven years into the multi-currency regime, I thought it better to re-visit my dream, the assumption that now with stable currencies, the planning, budgeting and drilling of the borehole would be much easier.

What hastened my dream was coming across Mwaruta’s Facebook page, which is linked to Whitedron Boreholes, where he openly boasted of drilling boreholes on terms. I was tempted.

I made contact with him and gladly he remembered me from the conversations we had a decade-or-so earlier — which somehow heightened my enthusiasm — and I never saw any tell-tale signs that something was amiss.

He invited me to his “new offices”, 127 Nkwame Nkrumah Avenue, where he coolly explained that the tough economic environment had forced him and “his company” off the lofty offices of Karigamombe to the more modest Nkwame Nkrumah ones. His explanation made sense, almost every organisation is downsizing and cost-cutting.

Then we got into the business of the day, I still wanted a borehole at my rural home, to supplement my summer cropping. I wanted a 60-metre deep borehole, to take care of the dry seasons.

A standard borehole is 40 metres, but I reasoned out, that with the ever-frequent dry seasons, I should sink mine a few metres deeper.

A quotation was worked out. Citing, drilling and casing of the 60 metres was put at $3 750, with an initial deposit of $1 000 and the balance to be paid in monthly instalments, to be paid after the drilling.

On Friday, May 27, I transferred the $1 000 deposit into a provided MBCA account.

“Our rig is currently drilling at St Paul’s in Nyanyadzi and once we are done, we will go to Guruve,” was the initial statement.

By the following weekend, we should have done the drilling, that was the promise. Then the Nyanyadzi drilling became a chorus – and the borehole, rather boreholes, at Nyanyadzi, seemed to be done to no end.

Two weeks later, Whitedron Boreholes was still drilling in Nyanyadzi and for effect, a post was posted on Facebook on June 13 at 3.57pm: “Our rig is off tonight for Manicaland, Nyanyadzi to be specific, for drilling. Anyone requiring a borehole in Manicaland please get in touch ...”

This was to be the story for the whole of June, “we are still drilling in Nyanyadzi”.

By July, the tune had changed.

“We have another customer in Mvurwi who needs to have a borehole there and he should be paying by this week and then we combine Guruve and Mvurwi, since it is the same direction.”

As July wore on, it seemed the Mvurwi guy was no longer interested. But was our agreement to drill in Guruve tied to anyone in the same direction?

Then the month of August brought my then growing suspicion to reality, Whitedron Boreholes is probably non-existent and a briefcase company.

Mwaruta, at best, is a sales representative, who looks for drilling contracts on behalf of someone.
A child drinks some water at a newly sunk borehole, dug using a manual drill at a village in the west districts of Kinshasa so that women and childrens do not have to walk long distances to reach small and often polluted river on march 7, 2015. Drilling of wells by hand is a common technique in rural D.R. Congo, a technique 4-5 time cheaper than the classic one and can be operated in remote areas where it would be near impossible to bring the materials for mechanical drilling. AFP PHOTO/FEDERICO SCOPPA / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO SCOPPA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO SCOPPA/AFP via Getty Images)

I went back to the Nkwame Nkrumah offices, after I had gone for two weeks without my calls being answered, nor returned.

“Garikai doesn’t have offices here, he just asked us for some space and we gave him a desk.

“And that day when you came was the last day he was here, he has never been here again,” I was politely informed.

“When we saw you guys talking we didn’t know what you were discussing but we assumed you knew each other. Our offices here are not, in any way, involved with Whitedron Boreholes. He is a colleague from way back and when he hit the hard times, he came asking for space for occasional use and we allowed him.”

And in an effort to clear his name, reputation and premises, the guy immediately phoned Mwaruta to come clean if he had been handling dirty deals as that would compromise business, he advised him.

Feeling the pressure, Mwaruta answered my next call and even drove for a meeting.

“We will be going on Tuesday to drill, everything is set,” was the new tune.

Come the Tuesday, the drilling rig had been holed up somewhere, it had to finish some drilling in town before it headed for Guruve.

Then came the non-answering of phone calls, again, and instinctively I knew I had been duped.

But could I be the only one?

With the emergence of social media, where anyone can advertise without any checks and balances, what mechanisms are in place that consumers are not taken for granted?

Do borehole drillers have any regulatory authority?

Zinwa Responses:

Q: Do borehole drillers have a regulatory body they report to?

A: Currently the drillers do not have a regulatory body they report to.Q: If a consumer has a complaint against a borehole driller, where do they go?

A: At the moment there is no regulatory body to go to with a complaint. However, some consumers, though it would be too late, come to Zinwa just for advice on how the borehole should have been drilled in accordance with the SAZ Zimbabwe Standard ZWS 678:2013, Development, Maintenance and Management of Groundwater Resources.

There is no legal instrument to enforce the standard as yet. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate is working on a Statutory Instrument to that effect. The Statutory Instrument is also going to effect the regulation of the drillers, and thus their licensing.


Q: Is Zinwa involved in regulating the operations of borehole drillers?

A: Zinwa is not involved in regulating the operations of borehole drillers.

Q: What are the minimum standards that would be adhered to by a borehole driller?

A: The standards for borehole drilling are specified in the SAZ Zimbabwe Standard ZWS 678:2013, Development, Maintenance and Management of Groundwater Resources. However, there is no legal instrument to enforce the standard as yet.

Q: Are borehole drillers licensed? And who licenses them?

A: Borehole drillers are not being licensed as yet. There is no legal instrument to compel them to be licensed yet.

Q: How can a consumer tell a bogus driller from a genuine driller?

A: It is not easy to tell. A number of factors come into play covering the adequacy and appropriateness of the drilling equipment and accessories, and skills of the drill operators.

Regulation of the drillers would address these factors during licensing. However, consumers are advised to do background checks for the companies they would have engaged to ensure that they are genuine.

They may also enter into legally binding contracts with them wherein the groundwater standards would be incorporated so that when a driller fails to perform, the consumers will have some recourse.


Q: Any other information that you think might help educate consumers on borehole drillers.

A: In groundwater resources development, it is not a question of just drilling a borehole and getting water without paying adequate attention to proper borehole design and construction.

Boreholes require sophisticated technology with the right and appropriate technical design. Unfortunately, the importance of good quality borehole design and construction is often under-estimated. This tends to even affect the lifetime of the borehole since the lifetime and the efficiency of any borehole largely and directly depends on its quality.

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