Residents ‘beg’ for pre-paid water meters

close up of running tap
Vusumuzi Dube, Municipal Reporter
A NUMBER of Bulawayo residents are reportedly approaching the Bulawayo City Council begging for the local authority to install pre-paid water meters within their residences.

This comes despite a number of pressure groups claiming to be representing residents in the city saying residents were not interested in the pre-paid water meter system as it inflicted on water being a basic human right leading the local authority to temporarily suspend the facility.

Responding to questions from Sunday News the local authority’s senior public relations officer, Mrs Nesisa Mpofu revealed that to date they have received over 1 500 requests from members of the public who wanted pre-paid water meters.

She revealed that while they had initially passed a resolution on places that could be covered by the system upon request, they had got a majority of the requests from people outside the areas chosen for installation hence the need for a new resolution to deal with the requests they were receiving.

“The City of Bulawayo has received various applications from residents requesting for pre-paid water metering connections.

To date, we have over 1 500 applications while some have expressed interest but have not yet written to council. The applications are from different suburbs including both eastern and western suburbs.

“The last council resolution currently covers installation of pre-paid meters in Cowdray Park, Central Business District and new suburbs, to date however; applications have been received from areas that are outside these areas. There may be need to obtain a new resolution that covers the new applications being received,” said Mrs Mpofu.

The council spokesperson revealed that they were now working on modalities to ensure that they manage the pricing mechanisms for the pre-paid water meters to make them affordable by residents.

“Residents interested in the pre-paid meters can submit applications to the engineering services department, fifth floor, Tower Block. At the present moment, the prices for the meters vary and the City of Bulawayo would wish to standardise the meters so that they are the same for everyone,” said Mrs Mpofu.

According to the latest council report councillors also concurred with the council spokesperson revealing that a number of residents had approached them requesting that the pre-paid water meters be installed in their houses.

“Discussion ensued and Clr Ernest Rafomoyo said most of the residents in his ward were now interested in pre-paid water meters. As a result, he had received several inquiries on how to access the pre-paid water meter, facility from council. Clr Gideon Mangena concurred saying that he had also received several requests for pre-paid water meters,” reads part of the council minutes.

A couple of years ago the local authority was forced to abandon the pre-paid water meter pilot project in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle suburb instead encouraging residents to apply for normal water meters.

Civic organisations that include the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (Bupra), Bulawayo Agenda, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) and Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) have since 2013 been rallying Bulawayo residents against the meters.

The Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing has set the record straight on pre-paid water meters, saying local authorities should roll them out countrywide to boost revenue collection. The Government indicated it was no longer in a position to avail grants to councils.

The ministry said the country was in a “cash economy” hence pre-paid water meters were an ideal business model for local authorities.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere recently gave Gwanda town the green light to install pre-paid water meters to enhance revenue collection and improve service delivery despite protests by residents.

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