Council proposes steep water, tariff hike

HARARE City Council yesterday increased water tariffs and rentals for its rented accommodation in its $32,7 billion budget, saying the hike was “painful”, but necessary.

BY MOSES MATENGA

Presenting the 2021 budget, finance and development committee chairperson Tichaona Mhetu said there was need to address critical areas, including water and health provision.

“The tariff regime might be painful, but is necessary for the city to restore basic service delivery to our people,” Mhetu said.

At least $8,4 billion of the budget will be capital budget while $24,3 billion is revenue budget, according to Mhetu.

“The $4,7 billion funding was allocated to water, sanitation and hygiene. As we strive to be a smart city, we are aware of the need to manage waste water effectively and as such, part of the allocation will be channelled  towards the optimisation of our sewage treatment plants,” Mhetu said.

“Efforts will be made towards the rehabilitation of our farms which are critical to the waste water treatment process.”

“Your worship, the proposed 2021 revenue budget before you is a responsive budget. The justification for water tariff increase has been necessitated by a drastic increase in cost of inputs namely chemicals, cost of repairs, maintenance, capital charges on borrowed funds for capital works and electricity costs. Projected cost of producing one cubic metre of water in 2021 is $151 up from $99 in 2020.”

Council has been failing to provide potable water to its over 1,5 million residents in the greater Harare area with shortage of chemicals being a major concern.

Mhetu pleaded with the government to take over council’s legacy debt on water treatment chemicals that stands at $705 million and electricity that is at $291 million “so the city can employ the proceeds from tariff adjustment towards making water account operations sustainable”.

Tariffs on refuse collection were increased from $28 for high-density areas to $565 while those in the low density areas will be $803, up from $42.
Commercial and industrial areas will have to pay $1 632 up from $72 for refuse collection.

However, council said hospital and clinic fees will not be changed.

“Hospital and clinic fees will remain as per 2020 rates to promote access to health by all, it is expected that government grants for drugs and related programmes will cover the shortfall as well as contributions from property tax,” Mhetu said.

On council accommodation, he said: “Your worship, council rented accommodation was not contributing much in terms of revenue because our rentals have been very sub-economic. In the coming year we are proposing the following charges…”

For tenants in Glen Norah (semi-detached) and Dzivarasekwa, rentals have been increased from to $2 800, up from $240.
Those renting Kuwadzana four-roomed houses will now pay $8 400 up from $500.

The 2021 budget was drawn under the theme Restoring Service Delivery: Towards a Smart City.

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