25 February 2013

Zimbabwe: City Spares Water Bill Defaulters

HARARE City Council will not disconnect residents with outstanding water bills to avoid water-borne diseases that have resurfaced in the city, an official has said. Council would, however, find alternative means to force defaulters to settle their water bills. Harare Water director Engineer Christopher Zvobgo said because of the water-borne diseases, they could not sacrifice the health of residents by disconnecting water supplies.

"At this stage, because of all these disease outbreaks we cannot disconnect immediately," said Eng Zvobgo.

"We are trying to encourage people to come and make some payment plans so that they pay according to how much they earn. But we seem not to be getting anywhere. I think we have to think of other alternative ways of forcing people to pay because we are not winning."

Eng Zvobgo said it was important for defaulters to settle their bills so that the local authority could maintain its water reticulation system.

He said Government owed Harare Water US$42 million, while domestic users owe the authority about US$76 million.

Eng Zvobgo said the authority was owed more than US$162 million by residents, satellite towns and Government among others.

He said if the other alternatives fail to make defaulters pay, the local authority would have no choice but to disconnect water supply.

Meanwhile, water shortages caused by the shutdown at Morton Jeffray and Warren Park Waterworks are set to ease as council expected to complete repairs.

City spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi yesterday said the repairs were disturbed during the burial of national hero Cde John Mayowe.

"We think the repairs would be done by end of day today (yesterday). We had been delayed during the burial of our national hero."

He however, said the city was pumping water to the western suburbs while areas like Tafara/Mabvuku continued to experience water shortages.

Meanwhile, Harare Town Clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Welfare that some people, including businesses were stealing water from the city.

"The biggest challenge this committee should know is of course commercial water theft. There are some people who are stealing water like nobody's business. This is a major issue that the city has to address quickly," said Dr Mahachi.

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