Harare cuts off water supplies to residents

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) has started shutting off water service to “nonpaying” residents by removing water meters.

Residents in high density suburbs such as Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View and Budiriro want council restrained from the shutoffs, which they contend are denying them their constitutional rights to water.

This is part of an aggressive campaign to pare down $725 million in overdue bills, and hopes that if homes lost water access, ratepayers would settle their bills.

Angry residents have said the current water disconnections put public health at risk, hurt seniors on fixed incomes, and disrupt families with children.

“We already have problems with water supply in Canaan and now they are removing the meters.

“Had it not been for the community boreholes, the entire area would be dry,” one fuming resident who declined to be named told the Daily News.

“Now that they are removing our meters, there is a council official (name supplied) who is demanding bribes so they are not removed.

When we refuse to give him the money, he threatens us saying we will never get water at our homes.”

Community Water Alliance programmes manager Hardlife Mudzingwa said: “Council must engage residents on disconnections and removal of meters. A lack of quality water for people in high density areas exposes them to diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

“Even the boreholes they have resorted to might not be safe as seen with others which have been decommissioned due to contamination.”

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme, however, said the city was not removing the meters because of defaulting but to replace them.

He said there had been a lot of stuck meters which needed to be replaced with functional ones.

“People have been getting water for free in those areas and that is what we are trying to fix. We want to charge residents for what they consume and not make estimates on their bills,” Chideme said.

A fortnight ago council began disconnecting water supply to all residents and defaulters who owed more than $20 000 in a bid to recover the $725 million it is owed.

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