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Harare City Council is set to scrap fixed water charges for residents of affluent suburbs that have gone for long periods without receiving water.

In an interview yesterday, Harare Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni said it was unfair to charge residents for a service council was failing to provide.

Helensvale, Borrowdale Brooke, Greystone Park, Kambanje, The Grange, Philadelphia, Umwinsdale, Hatcliffe and Glen Lorne are some of the areas expected to benefit from the reprieve as residents were paying between US$9 and US$11 monthly.

“It is unfair to charge a fixed water charge to areas which do not receive any water supplies. A fixed charge implies a certain supply of any product or service and where we are at zero supply, our conscience will tell us not to apply any fixed charge,” he said.

In its 2014 budget totalling US$370,2 million Harare reduced fixed charges with the then finance and development chairperson, Councillor Norman Markham, saying the development was in response to Harare residents’ submissions during pre-budget consultations.

However, residents demanded that council scraps fixed water charges totally instead of lowering them since water supplies in most parts of the city were erratic.

Fixed charges for domestic water in high-density suburbs were reduced from US$5 to US$4, while for low-density suburbs they were reduced from US$11 to US$9.

Fixed water charges for the commercial sector are now pegged at US$50 down from US$80.

Helensvale, Borrowdale Brooke, Greystone Park, Kambanji, Glen Lorne, Clr Markham said, would welcome such a move as people in his ward were paying the highest fixed water charge yet they did not get any supplies.

“I am in total support of such a development, my complaint is that people in the Borrowdale area pay the highest rates in Harare yet they do not have any water supplies.

“My sister ward Hatcliffe also does not get any water and most of the houses have wells,” he said.

Hatcliffe councillor Naboth Munyengera said the scraping of fixed water charges was a welcome development especially in his ward, which had gone for five years without water.

“We do not have a problem with residents paying rates. The problem arises when residents are being charged for a service council is not delivering.

“Residents should pay for services they get from council, if the water is there residents will pay,” he said.

Mayor Manyenyeni said according to a World Bank report, Harare did not have a water problem, but a management problem.

“The city produces more water with a water production of 340 per capita more than Bulawayo’s 192 per capita a day, but Bulawayo, which has the lowest per capita production of water supplies all consumers 247,” he said.

He said Harare was lacking in terms of efficiency and management.

“If we fix those problems, water will not be a topic for discussion,” he said.

The city expects an improvement in water supply as it implements an infrastructure rehabilitation project funded by a US$144 million loan from China.

Source : The Herald

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