Gweru residents fume over exorbitant rates

GWERU residents have slammed council for continuing to rely on a flawed billing system which has seen ratepayers being charged exorbitant rates, a research by Gweru Residents Forum (GRF) reveals.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

According to the GRF survey conducted in the city’s five wards last month, disputed bills among other service delivery issues constituted the highest number of complaints by residents.

“The Gweru Residents Forum, through its community activities and engagement with Gweru City Council, has witnessed that residents service delivery concerns revolve around disputed billing system,” the report read.

“The bills are said to be exorbitant and on average, range from $75 to $115 per household, making it unsustainable for a community that has over 80% of the population not formally employed. The residents complained that meter readers were no longer interested in meter reading, but rather estimated billings were taking centre stage at council’s finance department.”

Residents also complained that paying bills using mobile money platforms was not reliable as they would get their receipts from council two weeks after payment.

The report further showed that many households in the high-density suburbs had faulty water meters, with residents charged a flat 20 kilowatts regardless of their consumption.

“Little efforts have been made to replace the stuck meter and reasons brought forward (by council) being that the meters cost over $100,” the report read.

According to the report, residents recommended that council use fixed water charges to purchase meters.

The residents also recommended that the local authority supervises its meter readers and accepts any amount on outstanding bills.

Over the years, ratepayers have been demanding itemised bills from council, arguing that they presented a true reflection of outstanding amounts owed to the local authority.
Council is, however, yet to implement the request for itemised bills.

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