5 January 2014

Tanzania: Sh10 Billion Unpaid Water Bills Hinder Quality Services

Moshi — PILES of unpaid water bills has seriously affected the performance of water authorities in various regions making it difficult for some water authorities to improve the quality of services for lack of funds, says the government.

Speaking at the inauguration of two water sources at Coffee Curing and Kilimanjaro Tank in Moshi, the minister for Water, Professor Jumanne Maghembe said government institutions were leading defaulters.

"Government institutions owe over 10bn/- to water authorities countrywide. It is surprising water bills are not cleared but consumers enjoy the supply. We expected the payments to be honoured in installments but no deliberate efforts are made to clear the debt.

We will not stop reminding them until all bills are cleared," Maghembe said. Without mincing words, the minister named the customary defaulters as the police force, Tanzania Prisons, National Service (JKT) and hospitals such as Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).

Mr Maghembe, who is also an MP for Mwanga said previously some of the debts were settled but he wondered why no payment was made to Moshi Urban Water Supply Authority (MUWSA) whatsoever.

Without giving details, the minister said currently, MUWSA clients, mainly government institutions were supposed to pay 500m/- water bill arrears.

Moshi Urban Water Supply Authority (MUWSA) Board Chairperson, Ms Shally Raymond, requested the minister to help exert pressure on the debtors for prompt settlement of the water bills.

"May you help us so as to recover the money desperately needed. We have not been able to purchase the necessary working gear including vehicles, as a result we end up buying motorcycles," she pleaded.

Prof. Maghembe promised that the ministry would make every effort to make sure that all debts were recovered and said his only hope was that more pressure would be exerted on defaulters for MUWSA to realise the payment.

Earlier, MUWSA Managing Director, Engineer Cyprian Luhemeja gave a report on '180 Day's Strategic Plan' that was presented to the minister when unveiling a new board about six months ago.

Engineer Luhemeja said they successfully implemented the plan under Big Results Now (BRN) initiative by improving their staff working condition. Amid applause from the staff in attendance, the MD said that MUWSA has increased minimum wages from 300,000/- to 512,000/- a month.

They have as well increased water source production capacity from 25,000 cubic metres per day in June last year to 38,000 cubic metres per day as of now from Coffee Curing source.

The MD said the borehole that is being constructed at Kilimanjaro Tank will add up the supply to 1,800 cubic metres per day and the work was scheduled for completion this January. Construction of boreholes at KDC and Longuo areas is expected to be initiated anytime and all will increase water production by 8,000 cubic metres per day.

MUWSA had started rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure, to cover about 85 km but due to lack of funds they have afforded to do only 25 km. Construction of new 21 km water infrastructure is taking place but the target was 60.7 km in Sango, Mabogini, Karanga, Mjohoroni, Rau Kariwa and Chekereni areas.

Other plans include increasing the number of customers, save time that was used to deal with customers through ICT, reduce water leakage whereby leakage was reduced from 38 per cent in June 2013 to 24 per cent in December 2013. The aim is to reduce loss to nine per cent come June 2014.

Prof. Maghembe said he was impressed by MUWSA performance, especially that the promises given have been fulfilled and that is why he made the tour to establish the truthfulness and ability of the staff.

"I was astonished when water rationing started in Moshi but said this has to come to an end, thank God you have done it. You have managed to increase water production at a record low cost, you are very innovative, keep it up and the Government will support you," he said.

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