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Borehole Companies Swindle Customers

Anyone who has lived in Zimbabwe for the past few years knows two things: you cannot trust councils to deliver water to your house when you need it and you can certainly not trust ZESA to give you uninterrupted power. For this reason, those who can afford it drill boreholes for water and install backup solar systems.

While there are reputable borehole drilling companies like Tandamanzi that have been in the business for decades, the rise in demand has spawned a spate of new borehole drilling companies. Established companies tend to be very rigid when it comes to pricing so people who are short on money sometimes turn to the upstarts for services. These tend to be a bit flexible when it comes to negotiating the final price.

A good number of these new companies have actually gone on to establish a good reputation and earned stellar reviews but there are quite a number of bad apples. Recently, people in various groups on social media started recounting their horror stories on how they had been swindled.

The nature of boreholes means that for the most part people who are having a borehole drilled are likely to be first-time customers. A lot of people are not acquainted with the nitty-gritties of the process so they hang on to every word coming out of the people who are doing the drilling. Sadly these people, as it turns out, are not always honest.

Generally, three stages are involved:

  • Siting where a surveyor comes to your property and tries to find the best spot to drill
  • The actual drilling process. Most companies have a standard 40m contract where they drill up to 40m and then they start charging for each metre after that or they add more meters as blocks e.g. the next 40m are charged this or that amount.
  • Casing where a pipe is inserted into the drilled hole to prevent it from collapsing

Turns out the upstart drilling companies are cheating their customers during at least one of these three stages.

Some customers were cheated by unqualified surveyors who bring bogus tools to the site. They practice quackery and not science. Some pretend to use water rods or sticks claiming these can find underground water. It’s a well-established fact that dowsing as the practice is known is not a science. Some claim it’s no more effective than tossing a dice. Because they are just guessing they end up choosing unsuitable sites and costing clients money and more when no water is found. Some companies deliberately choose unsuitable sites so they can drill deeper and charge more.

Other companies simply case the topmost part of the hole and just leave the other part as it is. During the wetter months of the year the soil becomes unstable and collapses on top of your pump. You will not be able to get water from your borehole until it is repaired which will cost you extra money until the problem is eventually fixed.

How to protect yourself?

The easiest way to make sure you are safe is to just hire a reputable company and make sure you do your research beforehand so that the onsite crew doesn’t get any ideas. If you have to go with the newly created startups you must only do so after thoroughly vetting the company’s reputation. There are several home builder’s groups that can help. Chances are someone has already had a run-in with the company you are considering.