The water utility, NamWater, said yesterday it was owed a staggering N$1.2 billion in outstanding bills by regional councils and local authorities across the country.
Despite NamWater being owed a massive amount, the company said cutting water supply to the towns and regional councils will be their last resort at the moment.
NamWater spokesperson Johannes Shigwedha said disconnecting the water supply would directly have an impact on the livelihood of ordinary citizens. According to Shigwedha, most of the clients have made prior arrangements to settle their outstanding arrears.
"For us, cutting water is the last option. We shy away from the disconnection of water because water is life, however, if we send a letter of demand but no positive response is received, we explore other measures to make sure that people settle their accounts. But I repeat, not disconnecting water," he clarified yesterday in an interview with New Era. "I want to make it very clear that the letter of demand is not only issued to the City of Windhoek. It was sent to all the local authorities that fail to honour their onus. We are appealing to our clients to honour their part in the process of supplying water, for the company to keep the water flowing and at the same time also maintain the ageing infrastructure." Giving a breakdown of the water defaulters, Shigwedha said out of 14 regional councils, six were of great concern and are nowhere to be found in terms of settling their arrears. According to him, five regional councils are regularly paying for services, while three others were ranked "average" as far as paying for services is concerned. On village councils, he said the majority 13 are nowhere to be found and only two were seriously working on settling outstanding arrears.
Regarding town councils, Shigwedha noted nine local authorities were finding it difficult to pay for services, while seven were ranked as good payers. He also said two municipalities in the country were not honouring their obligation towards the water utility, while three municipalities are consistently paying their dues. Four other municipalities have been ranked as "average". The spokesperson further said the company was obliged to send out notifications to all its clients that are not forthcoming when it comes to settling arrears. "The tariffs increment, which the company is granted by the Cabinet of the Republic of Namibia, does not always cover the true costs of the water supply, so often the company strives hard to manage with the little resources it gets. Therefore, people need to be reminded to settle their accounts," he added. Last year, urban and rural development minister Erastus Uutoni directed all local authorities and regional councils to put on hold any proposed tariff increases in light of the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contacted for comment yesterday, Uutoni said he was in a Cabinet meeting and unable to communicate.