NamWater has issued an ultimatum to the town of Rundu to settle its N$14.2 million water debt or to have the water supply to the entire town disconnected.
"Rundu Town Council shall pay the full outstanding balance by the end of April. Failure to settle the outstanding balance by 30th April 2013 will result in water suspension by NamWater," reads a notice from the water utility served on the Rundu Town Council.
Documents from NamWater indicate that the Rundu Town Council owes the water utility N$14.2 million. During a meeting held between NamWater and the Rundu Town Council last month, both parties agreed that the town council should expedite the transfer of properties that were sold to third parties in 2011. The money generated in the property transfers shall be used to settle the debt owed to NamWater.
The town council is however not in agreement with the N$14.2 million debt, indicating it only owed N$5.4 million. "We are really confused as to where this N$14.2 million emanates from because last month we had a meeting with NamWater to discuss the debt issue and they told us that we owe them N$5.4 million, and today it is almost triple the amount," said the town's deputy mayor, Bonny Kahare.
"In 2011 there was a salary increment of 28 percent (backdated to 2009) which really crippled the financial status of the council. But we are working on ways to settle our debt," said Kahare. Kahare however indicated that the council would meet today to discuss the situation.
The town council's management committee chairperson Johannes Murenga told New Era that in 2011 the council auctioned land to generate revenue in order to settle the debt. "We informed NamWater that as soon as the transfer is completed, we will settle our debt. When our term started in 2010, we decided to increase the water tariffs in order to align them with NamWater's water levy, mainly because the revenue collection and water consumption did not balance at the time," said Murenga.
Murenga attributed the debts to his predecessors saying their failure to fulfill their obligations resulted in the huge debt that could result in the town's water being disconnected.