The water deputy minister, Douglas Karoro, has appealed to defaulters, who include government ministries, to settle a combined $150 million bill they owe Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) for water services.
The deputy minister was speaking in Binga on behalf of Minister Perrance Shiri at the commissioning of a new US$2 million water treatment plant in the district.
Karoro said defaulters included government ministries and departments, local authorities, irrigation schemes, mines, agricultural estates, domestic users, and various institutions.
"I am also advised that ZINWA is owed in excess of $150 million in unpaid water bills by a range of its clients that include local authorities, mines, agricultural estates, domestic clients and institutions," he said.
"This is a very unsustainable situation considering the need for ZINWA to keep water supply infrastructure in sound shape, to procure water treatment chemicals, meet statutory obligations, and expand service to new areas.
"This can only be possible if people honour their part of the bargain. So as we celebrate this new piece of infrastructure, let us remember to pay our bills and help the water authority to effectively and sustainably deliver its mandate. ZINWA will be rolling out pre-paid water metering system to improve collection of revenue and eliminating the use of estimates for charging clients."
He said the installation of prepaid water metering systems had already started in after successful trials in Mvurwi and Chivhu areas.
Karoro said the new water treatment plant in Binga will usher a socio-economic development in Binga and provide safe water for the district known for its hot and dry weather resulting in severe water challenges.
"It is partly for this reason that government through ZINWA found it highly prudent to invest in improving the water situation in Binga Centre. The treatment plant is expected to ensure daily availability of potable water."
The construction of the plant was funded by the government under the Public Sector Investment Programme.
It is expected to increase water purification to 100 cubic metres per hour from the current 60 cubic metres per hour and Karoro said this will capacitate Binga to connect 300 new users at Binga Centre and Manjolo business centre.
Binga draws its water directly from the Zambezi River.