HARARE City Council says it will roll out pre-paid water meters in January next year, with an initial target of 100 000 households, but this will be on voluntary basis after protestations by residents groups.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Mayor Herbert Gomba told Avondale residents over the weekend that council had set aside $12 million in the 2019 budget — for water meters. “I know a number of our residents have been alleging that they are being overcharged. Well, next year we are rolling out the pre-paid system. It’s optional and those who don’t want them can stay on the post-paid system, but should pay their bills. We are in the process of working out modalities to cater for the marginalised but the idea is that everyone should contribute towards service delivery,” Gomba said.
Council has been undertaking a study on the pre-paid project but residents groups have been lobbying against the idea, alleging that water was a fundamental right and adopting pre-paid meters was akin to privatising the resource.
Prepaid meters are expected to serve as a revenue collection tool, as well as a debt recovery mechanism, and they also discourage wastefulness.
In January this year, council announced that it was owed over $725 million by government, business and residents.
According to Gomba, the debt has been drastically reduced after the city announced a 50% discount promotion for debtors.
Gomba said council had also undertaken a water pipe replacement programme, and already, a water pipe from its reservoir in the avenues area to Mabvuku was being installed to ensure that residents in the northern end of the city start receiving the resource after decades without supplies.
Gomba invited Avondale residents to visit the Morton Jeffery treatment works on Thursday so that they could appreciate the work undertaken to improve water supply through the $144 million loan facility from China, which was signed in march 2011.
Council said only $72 million had been availed so far.