Council to abolish estimate water billing

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC ) is on a drive to abolish estimate billing by replacing malfunctioning water meters with conventional meters.

This comes as residents have long complained about being overcharged through estimate billing, a concern which has been partly addressed by the introduction of prepaid water meters.

In an interview with the Daily News last week, HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said council wanted to do away with estimating water consumption and subsequent billing.

“We have been replacing old and malfunctioning meters with new ones in the different suburbs. The idea is to make residents who had malfunctioning meters to pay for their water. We also targeted those who did not have meters either through vandalism or removal by council,” he said.

Chideme added that conventional meters were cheaper to install and replace compared to prepaid meters which is why they embarked on the exercise.

The city spokesperson also said while they were replacing conventional meters with similar ones, it was not a deviation from the prepaid meter installation programme.

“We will still go ahead with the idea of prepaid meters, however, not everyone will have them. In some suburbs, conventional meters will remain,” Chideme said.

In Harare’s pre-budget consultative meetings with the business community, council finance director Tendai Kwenda said they intended to instal 100 000 prepaid water meters in Harare’s high density suburbs by December.

Kwenda said the project will be targeting areas that already have a constant water supply, with council having already installed more than 2 000 meters in Marimba, Sunningdale and parts of Westgate.

“The pilot phase has been completed and was successful. We will roll-out the meters in Kuwadzana and Westlea first and expand as we monitor the availability of water supply in different suburbs,” Kwenda said.

German firm, GIZ, released a report in 2015 titled “Assessment and Opportunities of Prepaid Metering Systems in Zimbabwean Municipalities”, which showed that Zimbabwe’s local authorities were not yet ready to implement smart meters on a wide scale.

The World Bank has also warned that prepaid water meters may not be the solution to local authorities’ financial woes, as it would take a long time to recover the costs of installing the pricey gadgets.

Conventional meters cost between $30 and $50 while the prepaid ones will set back the city between $150 and $210 per unit.

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