Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter—
The State Procurement Board (SPB) has asked Harare City Council to put its house in order before it can award the tender to deliver and install prepaid water meters, associated connections and meter management systems ahead of a city wide roll out. The city sent names of five contractors it used during the pilot project to SPB after completing its internal adjudication process, but SPB told the city to refine its documents.
Sources close to the tender claim that some officials from SPB were trying to force the city to include a company which was not part of the five names submitted.
City authorities selected Utility Systems, Syvern Investments, Hukoshwa, Industrial Chemical and Tricon to undertake the programme.
At least 28 companies made bids for the tender.
Harare City Council corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said council was still waiting for SPB’s decision.
“We are on course. We have submitted our documents to SPB. We are waiting for them to certify the documents,” he said.
The installation of prepaid meters has been met with resistance from residents’ associations. The city has dismissed the associations as not representing the people.
Government has also given local authorities the green light to install the meters to ensure everyone pays for water consumption.
Recently, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa urged local authorities to install pre-paid water meters to help revenue collection.
“Plumtree should be smaller than Rusape, but it is leading by the example we want all local authorities to follow.
“Local authorities should be able to meet the basic needs that we hold dear to our hearts. I consider it unethical for local authorities to deprive people of basic needs,” he said.
To cushion disadvantaged residents, Harare plans to 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.
There are over 250 000 properties in Harare requiring prepaid water meters.
The city early this year revealed that more than 85 000 properties have not paid a cent in rates to the cash-strapped council since dollarisation in 2013 resulting in debts owed to council ballooning to over $600 million.
The non-payment of bills continues to impact negatively on service delivery.