Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

22 July 2013

Tanzania: New Water Bills Payment System Shocks Many

STAKEHOLDERS and regulators have challenged the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) decision to change the water bills payment system.

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) and the Consumer Consultative Council (EWURA-CCC) have challenged the system for reportedly causing inconvenience to consumers.

Reached for comments on the new system, EWURA-CCC Chairman Prof Jamidu Katima told 'Daily News' on Sunday that basically the Council has no problem with the new system, but has seen the logic following complaints by some consumers.

"We have come across some complaints from a section of consumers and we are now set to meet DAWASCO over the matter. The system can be re-scheduled to prepare customers to use it conveniently," he said.

According to Prof Katima, bills payment using cash is increasingly becoming outdated as many businesses are nowadays shunning it, but in the case of DAWASCO at least some two or three months more could be given to customers to familiarise themselves with it.

He said the Council has planned to meet over a number of issues and confirmed that the bill payment modality was also an item in the agenda. Basically, the Chairman said the reason why DAWASCO is shifting from receiving cash to only mobile phone transfers and banking system has been positively grasped, saying it probably took the right decision to avoid theft.

"But abrupt shifting from the old system to the new one, I think needs to be rechecked. A grace period before full implementation of the system can be wiser," he said. EWURA through its Corporate Communications Manager Mr Titus Kaguo said if implemented as it is, the system could in turn cause more revenue loss than anticipated.

He insisted that apart from the possibility of loss due to a number of technical reasons, consumers had the right of being issued with receipts after paying their bills. "Sometimes telecom companies' networks fail or operate so slowly which can be one of the challenges. But again how is the new system going to ensure customers are issued with their receipts after they have paid the bills?" asked Mr Kaguo.

One of the customers complained to the 'Daily News' at the weekend that she did not believe when she was "chased away" from one of the Dawasco's branch as she went to pay her bill worth 120,000/- in cash.

Over the last week, DAWASCO's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Jackson Midala was quoted as saying that the Corporation had decided to shift from the old cash payment system to the new system calling for the water consumer to fully adopt it.

On the extra charges of the new system, the Corporations Public Relations Manager Ms Irene Makene said at the weekend that no customer will incur extra charges while paying bills through mobile service.

She said arrangements have been set for DAWASCO to pay mobile phone companies all the costs that would otherwise be incurred by customers while paying bills.

"We carefully studied the arrangement, notified the customers on the arrangement accordingly and will keep on educating them on its advantages," she said.

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