HomeNewsCouncil set to govern use of smart water meters

Council set to govern use of smart water meters

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HARARE City Council has tabled a by-law that will govern the use of smart water meters, as the local authority intensifies its pre-paid water metering project.

by XOLISANI NCUBE

Minutes from council’s environment committee meeting held on Tuesday and set to be tabled at the next full council meeting suggest that the local authority wants to penalise anyone who tampers with or vandalises the meter with a one-year jail term or a fine.

The proposed law, if approved by councillors and then ratified by Local Government minister, would make it illegal for anyone to give false information in the application for installation of the smart meters or anyone to remove them without council approval.

“Any water, refuse collection, sewerage and property tax outstanding on the date on which a smart water meter is installed shall be debts of the property on which that smart meter was installed and shall be reflected as a debit in the installed smart meter,” read part of the proposed regulations.

Council has rolled out the smart metering exercise in residential areas, as a way of ensuring residents pay for water they consume and improving revenue collection from the supplying of the essential commodity.

But now, council wants to establish a plant in Harare in partnership with EL Sewedy, which is said to be a giant in manufacturing of electrical goods and a host of other engineering products, such as smart meters.

The proposed by-law suggests that the debts currently owed by residents for various municipal services shall be recovered through deduction from the amount paid for pre-paid water at a rate which the local authority, through a council resolution, will determine but not more than 50%.

Council has already partnered with an Egyptian firm to manufacture the pre-paid smart meters and according to the proposed regulations, the installation, repair and maintenance shall be done by council provided that the consumer shall bear the costs.

The partnership with EL Sewedy Electrometer to start a manufacturing plant for smart water meters is yet to kick start as the joint venture is yet to be approved by the government.

“The consumer shall remain liable to pay for the fixed water charge, which shall be billed on a monthly basis,” read part of proposed regulations.

According to the local authority, the system will have a feature that allows defaulting residents to get some water on credit.

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