The Bulawayo city council is owed $77 million by various debtors, a situation that is compromising service delivery by the local authority, Mayor Thaba Moyo has said.
Moyo said during his end of year review of the city that debtors included government, domestic and commercial consumers.
“As we enter the New Year, we are calling upon consumers to come forward and discuss payment plans for account holders with overdue balances. The system of payment in place is expected to lessen the burden on the residents and also help protect consumers from having their water disconnected,” he said.
Some residents had their water supplies disconnected last year due to unsettled bills, most of which ran into hundreds of dollars. Council said it had to disconnect debtors so as to encourage them to pay up.
Moyo said 2010 presented a challenge to the municipality.
“The year 2010 was a difficult year for Bulawayo as we faced cash flow problems making it difficult to replace or refurbish equipment as well as ensure efficient provision of services for the communities,” the mayor said.
“Some of the problems that we faced in 2009 were carried over to 2010 and these affected our service delivery targets”.
He said council had set targets during the past year but was unable to meet many them.
“The priorities which we set for the 2010 budget included the following; water, sewage, health, housing, roads, education, public lighting, social services and fire and ambulances. It was towards these key result areas that the City of Bulawayo worked hard to address the challenges faced,” said Moyo.
The mayor said the municipality also faced equipment shortages last year.
“Council has also been affected by lack of equipment and vehicles which made it difficult to effectively address the various challenges faced. For example, at the moment the water division has only 12 out of 32 vehicles operational and this has seriously hampered the operations and maintenance of the water supply and distribution network,” said Moyo.
He said sewer bursts also presented council with a major headache. The sewer bursts have seen the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) giving an ultimatum to council to repair its sewer system after streams of raw effluent became common sight in the city.
“A major challenge which we faced as a city was the proliferation of sewer bursts. The city’s sewage treatment plants are currently operating at almost 40% due to broken down operating systems which need repairs. Despite all these challenges, we have managed to reduce the number of carryovers of choke levels from 150 to an average of 30 per day,” he said.