Home » Governance » Bulawayo Council Defies Public Opinion On Pre-Paid Water Meters

THE Bulawayo City Council is pressing ahead with the controversial pre-paid water meter project despite resistance from residents and civil society organisations.

The local authority has since resolved to continue with the project and finance the purchase and installation of the pre-paid water meters by ring fencing water income from those targeted by the project.

The pre-paid water pilot project is expected to be launched at the Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle housing scheme.

However, the project has faced stiff resistance from activists who have criticised the local authority for wanting to infringe on the resident’s social and economic rights.

In a report contained in the latest council minutes, councillors agreed to continue with the project and identified ways of financing it.

“The Director of Engineering Services then explained that Council had taken a stand on provision of pre-paid water meters. Consultations were made and it would be necessary for Council to make a decision on the modalities of funding the project considering the costs involved. 1600 pre-paid meters would cost approximately US$360 000.The cost of a pre-paid meter was around $200,” read part of the report.

The first scenario entailed beneficiaries of Hlalani Kuhle paying $3.87 per month. This would raise their monthly instalments towards servicing of Hlalani Kuhle from $50 to $53.87, excluding water consumption.

The second scenario would be to ring fence water income from those connected to pre-paid meters and apply it towards payment for the meters.

The third scenario would involve Council funding the pre-paid meter Project through public subscription. This concept was similar to pre-sale of stands where beneficiaries made payments towards the project. Similarly, beneficiaries could contribute towards the purchase of meters.

Contributing to debate on the report, Councillor G. Banda said that the issue of pre-paid meters was a sensitive matter and, as such, there was need to exercise caution.

Councillor Collet Ndhlovu said that the residents of Cowdray Park were not opposed to the project.

“The vocal people were not part of the Cowdray Park community. Council had taken a position on the matter. However he (Ndhlovu) was now concerned about the costs involved because initially this aspect was not discussed,” the report read.

“Councillor M Ncube concurred, saying that there was a pressure group with negative interest on the matter which was distorting information. There was need for the relevant Council departments to counter this and adequately articulate Councils position on the matter.

Councillor Ncube said that the delay in implementing the Council’s decision had now created problems, and pressure groups who were not part of Cowdray Park community were now campaigning against the project.”

In response to questions, the Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube explained that Council made a decision on the matter and resolved to do a pilot Project in Cowdray Park where there was no water connection, thereafter pre-paid meters could then be extended to other areas.

In Cowdray Park, the project involved 1000 Stands and council stand pipes would be moved once indoor meters were installed.

The councillors then adopted second scenario, involving ring fencing water income from those connected to the pre-paid water meters to fund the project.

Council also resolved to negotiate terms with suppliers willing to install the meters and recover the cost from the ring fenced income.

Source : New Zimbabwe