Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE Beitbridge Town Council has threatened to sue the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) for unilaterally installing bulk prepaid water meters in the border town.
The town secretary, Mr Loud Ramakgapola, yesterday accused Zinwa of disregarding an agreement made with the town council last year.
He said they had agreed that the water authority should not install prepaid meters until the two parties agreed on specific points.
Mr Ramakgapola said the meters were installed at points where the local authority would end up paying for non-revenue water.
“We held a meeting with the Zinwa board on 26 October last year and agreed that they would give us six months to set up our own prepaid water meters.
“Further, we indicated that they should put theirs at their various points of distribution. Now they have just pressed ahead with the programme and the current situation will result in us paying for non-revenue water. When the pipes burst we lose water before receiving it at our tanks.
“After consulting with various stakeholders, we decided to take legal action against Zinwa,” he said.
The local authority has been fighting Zinwa over a $12 million debt owed to the parastatal since 2009.
Mr Ramakgapola said the water situation in the town was worsened by the non-payment of bills by residents and businesses.
He said they were owed $4,5million and were continually engaging defaulters to pay up.
Beitbridge Residents’ Association chairperson, Ms Rumbidzai Ribombo, said they were drafting a petition to be delivered to the Ministers of Environment, Water and Climate Change and the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing over the issue.
She said the water situation in Beitbridge was already deplorable adding that the new order would see most taps running dry.
“At the moment Zinwa is pumping a third of the 15 000 cubic metres of water we need daily. We will stand our ground. The era of imposing things on residents must come to an end. It is sad that we have such high rates for water when the water is pumped just 2,5km from our houses,” Ms Ribombo said.
Zinwa’s Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager, Mrs Marjorie Munyonga, said the installation of bulk water meters was not peculiar to Beitbridge.
She said they will be rolled out to other clients as soon as the necessary processes were completed.
“This is part of Zinwa’s wider strategy to enforce payment by water users, among them local authorities who now owe us in excess of $140 million.
“The installation of the prepaid water meters for the local authority followed extensive consultations between the two parties,” Mrs Munyonga said.
She said the meters were installed at the same points where the old (post-paid) bulk water meters were.
“We cannot charge for non-revenue water as the prepaid meters are on the exact points from which Zinwa has been billing the municipality over the years,” Mrs Munyonga said.