Namibia: City Plans Prepaid Water Meter Roll-Out

THE Windhoek municipality is planning to roll out the installation of prepaid water meters to reduce residents' water-consumption debts.

The prepaid devices will replace current water meters, which have been blamed for residents' skyrocketing water bills.

This plan is contained in a document submitted at the municipality's council meeting last month.

The document shows the municipality has already purchased about 300 prepaid meters, which would be installed in the first phase of this plan.

According to the document, the first phase of the programme would target consumers in different categories, prioritising clients who owe the municipality the most.

This would aim to avoid the further accumulation of debt from the vulnerable, pensioners and non-paying customers.

The document indicates the municipality would accommodate residents who are eager and willing to pay on a first-come-first-served basis.

The document states that the prepaid water meters would operate on the same principle as prepaid electricity meters.

This means consumers would purchase prepaid water "directly from vendors or by way of cellular phone options" as with electricity.

Apart from installation fees, the document shows the municipality would determine a tariff for water consumption based on various factors.

The tariff would include fees intended to recoup the retail tariff charged by NamWater for the supply of water, operation and maintenance costs, and other direct and indirect costs associated with the provision of water and other relevant services to residents.

Prepaid water meter tariffs would therefore be a combination of the gazetted tariffs for potable post-paid water, plus fees relevant to all water consumption, which are normally paid on a monthly basis by post-paid customers.

The document shows the municipality would charge prepaid water meter users a fee of N$108,15 for domestic consumption, with no additional Value Added Tax (VAT), for an inlet of 20 mm, and N$108,15 for non-domestic consumption, plus N$16,22 VAT.

The council document shows that the tariff caters for the recovery of capital costs, or the replacement of meters and infrastructure required for service provision.

"This amount is payable, irrespective of whether the customer uses the service or not. Normally this fee is charged on a monthly basis to post-paid customers, but is to be converted to a per-cubic metre rate for prepaid customers," the document states.

To convert the basic monthly fee for water to a per-cubic metre rate, the average annual daily demand of the consumers are determined at the point of connection.

"It is believed that once the prepaid water meters are installed the customers' consumption is estimated to reduce by 30%, due to the implementation of water demand management and sensitivity to usage," the document states.

The prepaid water meters would utilise existing prepaid electricity vending systems.

For this reason a 4% fee would be added to the normal tariff to be paid by all purchases made by the customer.

This would cover the commission for vendors who would collect revenue on behalf of the city.

The cost of one cubic metre of prepaid water would therefore consist of an 80% NamWater tariff, plus a 16% basic fee for water, and a 4% vendor commission.

During installation, customers would be educated on how to use the meter, and a brochure containing a water meter manual and contact numbers for enquiries would be distributed.

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