BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council has announced that it will be disconnecting water supplies to ratepayers who are not settling their bills, who it blames for failing to deliver on service provision due to poor cash flow.
In a notice on Friday, Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube said the city would be carrying out water disconnection in wards 1, 2, 5 and 6 to encourage residents to clear their debts.
“The City of Bulawayo will be carrying out water disconnections in wards 1 (city centre domestic properties), parts of ward 2 comprising North End, Queens Park and surrounding areas and parts of ward 5 comprising Hillside, Hillside South and ward 6 covering areas such as Bellevue, Newton West and surrounding areas,” Dube said.
“The residents are encouraged to avoid being inconvenienced by these necessary recovery measures by availing themselves to the council revenue offices and request to enter into a payment arrangement that will protect them against any of the recovery measures being taken. I ideally, a payment arrangement acceptable to council involves an initial payment of 10% minimum of the total outstanding debt, followed thereafter by making monthly payments of current bill in full plus 10% minimum of the outstanding debt until the debt is paid in full.”
Dube said honouring the arrangement would protect ratepayers against recovery measures that council takes against debtors.
The BCC decision to raid rate payers and disconnect water supplies come a few weeks after the local authority recently unveiled a credit control and debt collection policy that seeks to maintain predictable cash flows and allow for improved management of debtors, among others.
Council is owed $100 million by domestic debtors, $44 million by government, industry and commerce $72 million and $5 million by parastatals as at December 2019.
The local authority argues that failure by debtors to clear outstanding payments is affecting its ability to provide efficient services and honour its debts.
The local authority owed creditors $256 794 852 at the end of January, up from the December figure of $223 440 579.
According to a concept paper, the credit control and debt collection policy provides for procedures and mechanisms for credit control and debt collection.
The policy does not spare even BCC staff and councillors and insists on forced deductions from salaries if they have outstanding bills.