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arare City Council has received $23 million from the Government to liquidate part of its debt with suppliers of water purification chemicals.
The move is part of efforts by central Government to ensure the local authority is capacitated to deliver clean water to ratepayers.
The Government has also availed some funds to assist Harare with its devolution exercise.
Harare Town Clerk Engineer Hosiah Chisango said in an interview that they had submitted a payment plan to Chemplex Corporation, which they owe $80 million for purification chemicals.
The city received the first tranche of the money from the Government last October after which it made a $10 million payment to Chemplex.
Council has since been paying weekly instalments to the company.
Eng Chisango said he had taken a hands on approach to tackle the water crisis bedevilling the city.
He said the move to clear the debt was being aided by the financial injection from the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works.
“We paid an initial $10 million, and we have been paying a minimum of $2 million weekly,” said Eng Chisango.
“In our discussions with Chemplex, the commitment from the city is to increase the payments to $3 million weekly in March and by April we should be paying the total cost which currently stands at around $8 million per week.”
Chemplex supplies all local authorities in the country with water treatment chemicals, with Harare being the biggest consumer.
Eng Chisango said Government assistance had not only been centred on the water crisis, but was an ongoing relationship that covered bills like the ZESA debt.
“The ministry assists us with offsetting bills with some of our creditors,” he said. “We have done it before with ZESA. Last October we paid Chemplex $23 million through a similar arrangement.
“We are working with the ministry to improve service delivery. The ministry has also assisted Harare to access devolution funds for infrastructure development.”
Eng Chisango said they had now addressed the problems with the water billing system which had resulted in residents going for several months without receiving bills.
“We now have the January bills, but our printing is slow due to a number of challenges,” he said.
“We are now mainly focusing on e-billing. In that respect, we are calling on our customers to submit their e-mail addresses and phone numbers so that we can send bills through electronic means.”
Eng Chisango recently said council would this year improve service delivery with focus on improved waste management, better public infrastructure and increased water supply.
He said financing for projects and operations would come from the city’s budget and devolution funds.
Eng Chisango said the local authority was seized with the rehabilitation of the water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and 87 percent of the 2020 capital budget was allocated for that purpose.
“A huge investment in the sanitation and hygiene infrastructure would see the replacement of water and sewerage pipes in high-density suburbs,” he said. “Our 2020 budget is tilted towards the water sector.
“We have planned massive sewer pipe replacement in high-density areas, notably Mabvuku, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Glen View and Budiriro. Most of our devolution funds will also be channelled to this area.”