Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Harare City Council has awarded five local companies a tender to deliver and install prepaid water meters, associated connections and meter management systems ahead of a pilot project set for April this year.
The city plans to roll out the project at properties in the avenues area, new housing schemes and those belonging to volunteers.
At least 28 companies made bids for the tender, but the city selected Utility Systems, Syvern Investments, Hukoshwa, Industrial Chemical and Tricon.
The installation of prepaid meters has been met with resistance from residents’ associations but the city believes the pressure groups are not representative of the residents’ sentiments on the issue.
Government has also given local authorities the greenlight to install the meters to ensure everyone pays for water consumption.
Acting town clerk Mrs Josephine Ncube said in an interview on Monday the companies awarded the tender were in the process of bringing the water meters into the country.
“We awarded five companies to run the prepaid water meters programme,” she said. “We are happy with the progress so far. Our engineers have met with the companies’ representatives. They are in the process of bringing their gadgets into the country.
“We will be working on a computer system which gets feedback from the smart meters. The companies are supplying these gadgets at their own cost.”
Mrs Ncube said 2 000 properties were being targeted for the pilot project and that each company was expected to supply 400 prepaid water meters.
Harare mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni is on record saying the introduction of prepaid water system was at an advanced stage and the city was not going back on the project considering the fast-changing operational systems due to new technology.
“The process will begin through a phased approach to gauge progress and success of the project,” he said. “We will draw some lessons from countries that have already started using such systems like South Africa.”
To cushion disadvantaged residents, Harare will introduce a rate limiter, which blocks water when one fails to recharge, but will allow water to continue running at reduced pressure.
Authorities say the system helps curb treated water theft and will boost revenue inflows by ensuring consumers pay for water upfront.
Consumers owe Harare City Council over $300 million, with the finance department estimating that it collects $12 million against a potential $24 million monthly.