Consult widely on prepaid water meters

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) should consult widely with residents before they roll out the controversial prepaid water meters.

Residents believe the city should conduct joint meetings with all stakeholders to explain and justify prepaid water meters before they can introduce them to the residents.

With some residents already calling on council to indefinitely suspend the roll out in Harare until the residents’ concerns are totally addressed, or until there is an agreement; we implore council to take time to listen to their concerns.

Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has threatened that if for other reasons HCC proceeds with the roll out, they are ready to mobilise residents to only pay for water supplies and stop payments for other municipal services, which have been erratically provided.

Residents believe prepaid water meters are a threat to the cordial relationships that exist between local authorities and the citizenry as this development will shut out the citizenry from the governance and administration of water resources.

HRT which has widely consulted residents in Harare through focus group discussions, public meetings says residents are very clear that they do not accept the introduction of prepaid water meters.

In separate interviews, residents say that they are more concerned with the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of the water provided by HCC.

Presently, the HCC is providing around 55 percent of water to connected water consumers and the other 45 percent has resorted to private boreholes within residential areas, community boreholes sunk by different organisations, unprotected shallow wells, and water sources at households and in open areas.

In most instances, residents have to walk distances of about a kilometre or more to get potable water.

The residents argue that prepaid water meters are totally different from prepaid electricity meters and that water is a human right; hence should not be priced beyond the reach of the majority who are poor and struggling to make ends meet.

They believe water is life, and has no substitute under any circumstances. Unlike electricity which can be replaced by paraffin, gas, firewood, coal and charcoal and solar energy, water remains without an alternative, meaning even the poor and marginalised will have to find money to buy water, even at the expense of other necessities like food and shelter.

Through HRT, the residents said introducing prepaid water meters is tantamount to privatising water governance and administration, yet it is an essential service that is supposed to be provided by the Government through its agencies such as local authorities.

Residents say the introduction of the prepaid water meters is being imposed on the citizenry, without affording them an opportunity to raise their concerns.

We urge HCC to value the citizenry, as provided in terms of Chapter 14 of the Constitution which places more emphasis on the role of citizens in the governance of their public affairs.

The exclusion of the citizenry from engaging the whole process of introducing prepaid water meters flies in the face of good democratic practices, hence the rejection of the new initiative as both undemocratic and ill-advised on the part of whoever is pushing through with the idea.

While HCC believes their introduction will increase their revenue inflows and give them the opportunity to improve service delivery, we urge them to also listen to the residents.

Comments (1)

There is no water piped to our suburb so pre-paid meters will be of no use to the council or the residents.

citizen - 26 July 2017

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