$4 per month for water

HARARE - Chitungwiza residents could soon pay as little as $4 a month for water if pre-paid meters are successfully installed, a research company has said.

Smart meters are expected to be installed at some 3 000 houses in Harare’s dormitory town under a pilot project being run by the Zimbabwe Innovative Technology (Zimit), in partnership with Chitungwiza Town Council.

According to the United Nations, each person needs at least 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

The Chitungwiza Town Council currently charges 38 cents per kilolitre of water.

Nyikadzino Dube, Zimit director,  said “water is the cheapest product but at the moment the residents are not realising this because of excessive billing.”

Dube said a recent survey conducted by Zimit showed that about 75 percent of the water meters in the satellite town have outlived their lifespan and are thus giving incorrect reading, further burdening the residents.

“The mechanical meters that we currently have are outdated,” Dube said.

“Pre-paid meters have so many advantages. You can imagine that water only costs 38 cents for 1 000 litres. Fuel costs $1,49 a litre, a bottle of coke costs $1,20 cents a litre. A family of five can use just $4 for water a month that’s over 10 000 litres of water."

“But we are made to believe that water is expensive. We are used to expensive things. But the life of today is all prepaid. Bread you buy it, before you eat it, before you make a phone call, you put money in your phone.

“So if we can gain a culture of pre-paying for water, we will realise all these benefits because water is the cheapest product.”

Dube said the prepaying for water bills presents both the municipality and the residents with a win-win situation.

“The current billing system which takes 45 days is cumbersome and at the end of the day, there is also a burden that arises out of commercial loses, there is also a problem of physical loses all this contributing in a burden on the pocket of the residents,” he said.

If the pilot project is successful, it is likely that the Chitungwiza Town Council will invite bids for a tender to supply the gadgets.

Furthermore, water being a basic right, the local authority will need to find a way  to provide at least 20 litres free water to its residents.

Comments (1)

People would be quite happy to pay for their water bills as they are fully aware how vital this resource..we are not all idiots. What we have a quarrel with is the billing. For example Harare City charges upwards of 50 dollars per month for something they call 'fixed' water charges..now if one kilolitre is about 50 cents, how many kilolitres can one get for 50 dollars? It is this wanton arrogance and pirate laced hubris which is driving their partners away from them and they end up with these huge unpaid bills on their system..We also know this is meant to herd people into the clutches of a corrupt cabal in the billing department who cash on this on the side pretending to be doing residents who use this route they are doing them a favour when all these crooks do is to rob both the city council and the customers. This practice is not even hidden it is brazenly carried out under the nose of law enforcement agents and management. The consumer council should be making as much noise as to reach God's table but their silence appears complicit when it is not..it is just downrigth incompetence by these people who should be protecting consumer..What did former Director Nyambuya do to this body, because it seems the body died with his departure those many 'rains' ago. I am shocked that out of 13 million Zimbabweans a replacement can not be found! If this does not make you sick what will? One wonders where we would be if it were not for the efforts of the Harare Residents Trust and their colleagues at CHRA...

gutter poet - 3 December 2013

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