BY BRENNA MATENDERE
GWERU City Council has set aside a number of residential stands to offer to residents who settle their arrears and constantly pay their bills, as the city steps up efforts to recover millions of dollars it is owed by ratepayers.
This was revealed by deputy mayor Cleopas Shiri at an engagement meeting held on Saturday at Ingwe Hall in Senga. The meeting was organised by the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (GRRA).
Gweru is owed about $66 million by ratepayers who largely include residents, companies and government departments.
“As council, we are looking forward to a situation where every resident pays up their arrears to council and continue to constantly settle their current bills.
So, we are going to set aside residential stands to offer to those who settle their bills. So far, we have identified 36 stands to start with,” he said.
The city council has thousands of people on its housing waiting list, seeking residential stands and the move would see those identified jumping the waiting
“Our move is meant to encourage people to settle their bills in time and regularly. Accordingly, this incentive is expected to achieve that goal,” Shiri said.
Last month, the city council roped in the Harare Institute of Technology to install software that would ensure that residents and debtors who make payment plans adhere to their commitments.
The development was again part of measures being put in place by the Josiah Makombe-led council to improve revenue inflows and in turn scale up service delivery.
Shiri disclosed that council was forced to set aside its earlier resolution to install pre-paid water meters in houses after it dawned on them that the cost involved was unsustainable.
“A single pre-paid water meter was around US$600, yet we have over 200 000 households in Gweru. As a result, we thought the cost was too high and, therefore, shelved the plan,” he said.
GRRA director Cornelia Selipiwe encouraged council to be more transparent and accountable in its use of money collected from residents, saying that would motivate people to pay.