INSTITUTIONS and residents of Walvis Bay owe the municipality more than N$416,5 million.
The municipality's corporate communications officer, Anita Kaihiva, says this debt for utility services, was around N$380 million before March 2020 and has accumulated since.
She attributed the high debt to the downward economic trajectory, Covid-19, unauthorised water reconnections and leakages.
According to her, this situation is not unique to Walvis Bay and the municipality has put in place a mechanism to recoup the money.
"It should be borne in mind that the debt level changes every day, depending on payments received and the date of levies. Renewed efforts, such as the municipality's revenue enhancement programme have been introduced to secure a higher success rate in terms of revenue collection," she said.
Council recently extended the amnesty option which Kaihiva says is also a method to encourage residents to settle their debts and have the interest on the capital debt written off.
As a measure to force institutions and residents to settle their bills, the municipality has been disconnecting water supplies to up to 40 accounts per day. This has proved to be a challenge as some of those disconnected also reconnect their water supplies illegally, Kaihiva said.
The disconnection of water supply was, however, halted in March due to a government directive.
The outstanding debt for utility services at Narraville are N$21 million, Kuisebmond (N$76 million), Walvis Bay (N$261 million), Dolphin Beach (N$32 million), Lang Strand (N$13,2 million) and Meersig N$13,3 million.
Despite the high debt, the town mayor, Trevino Forbes, said the municipality does not owe NamWater a single penny. "Even when our revenue declined by 24% from water sales, we still ensured that the council pays its bills to our service providers. I think it is only fair for the public to also grant council the same courtesy by ensuring that they pay or make the necessary arrangements to settle their accounts," said Forbes. He added that the council's efforts to collect revenue or cut water supplies is not punishment as the long-term consequences of non-payment for services will affect the whole town.