5 January 2013

Zambia: Two Chambeshi Water Officials Sacked

TWO senior management officials at Chambeshi Water and Sewerage Company in Kasama have been dismissed for alleged incompetence and malpractices.

Local Government and Housing Minister Emerine Kabanshi announced the sacking of top management officials and the suspension of the operating licence for a period of six months.

Those that have been fired are director finance Ian Lialabi and manager commercial Patrick Bwembya.

"The company has been failing to compute the amount of treated water that is lost through leakages and hours of water supply as required by the water supply and sanitation Act number 28 of 1997 in order to determine service levels," she said.

Ms Kabanshi said following the suspension of the operating licence, she has appointed the managing director at North-Western Water and Sewerage Company Annortte Chilwesa as statutory manager for Chambeshi.

Mr Chilwesa's appointment would last for six months as a stop-gap measure before a long-term solution was found.

The statutory manager would work with the board in appointing a suitable managing director and a management team that would run the affairs of the firm effectively.

The position of managing director has been vacant after Moses Chishimba's contract came to an end in December 2011.

Human resources manager Kay Kasanda had been acting as managing director, but she has since returned to her substantive position.

Ms Kabanshi said the situation at Chambeshi had not changed for the better despite efforts by the Government to finance the utility company.

The company services urban and peri-urban areas in Northern and Muchinga provinces.

The minister said Chambeshi had failed to complete funded projects and had not been adhering to the requirements of the Water Supply and Sanitation Act number 28 of 1997.

Ms Kabanshi said the level of breaching the Act had reached its worst with unscrupulous adjustments on billing customers.

Some officers were conniving with customers to reduce utility bills.

"It was discovered that some officers were conniving with some customers to reduce the bills and then inflate the bills for unsuspecting customers, especially in Kasama, Mpika and Nakonde," she said.

Ms Kabanshi said despite water utility companies being required to supply water for an average of 18 hours per day, Chambeshi had been supplying water for an average of eight hours per day, while some areas had been receiving water for an hour or two per day.

Chambeshi had been failing to display service level guarantees at pay points in all districts to enable customers to know the minimum service levels they were required to receive as required by the Act.

Ms Kabanshi said apart from poor service delivery, the company had continued charging unmetered customers KR5 (K5, 000) despite several directives not to do so.

The suspension of the operating licence was done in accordance with section 21 of the water supply and sanitation Act number 28 of 1997 which sets standards for provision of water supply and sanitation services in the country.

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