WATER customers across the country heave a sigh of relief after the government suspended until further notice the planned hike of water tariffs.
The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) had endorsed the proposed new tariffs.
"EWURA has announced an increase in water tariffs starting this month, I have suspended the decision until the ministry authorities and myself, are satisfied with the grounds that made the water regulator reach the decision," said Water Minister Jumaa Aweso.
The minister issued the directive yesterday during a working session between the ministry and institutions under the docket.
According to the Authority, the proposed water tariffs were supposed to take effect at the end of this month.
However, the newlyproposed tariffs were not unveiled. Minister Aweso expressed dismay at the poor performance displayed by the water authority regulator in handling consumers' interest.
The minister challenged EWURA to throw its weight into performing other functions apart from spending much of its precious time on charges.
He was of the view that the Authority has not been doing well, especially in the area of consumer interests.
One of the challenges that the Authority grapples with is the failure to conduct public awareness campaigns to water users so that they can be acquainted with measures to take in case misunderstandings between them and water authorities emerge.
The minister directed EWURA to conduct capacity building training to water utility authorities on how best to deal with water users, especially in resolving misunderstandings.
Moreover, he said, EWURA should ensure that water utilities countrywide use standard meters unlike now where each authority uses its kind of water gauging metres--a practice that brings about complaints related to billing systems.
Mr Aweso said there are water utilities that slap customers with water bills that have not been endorsed by EWURA, a practice, he said, is illegal.
The minister said time is up for the transformation of the water sector, thus calling upon executives to play their roles well. He also wanted water sources to be well taken care of for sustainability of precious liquid.
It would be recalled that in 2017 President John Magufuli expressed his anger at EWURA for arbitrarily raising electricity tariff by an average of 8.5 per cent.