Massive water disconnections loom Mr Chideme
Mr Chideme

Mr Chideme

Herald Reporter
Massive water disconnections are looming in Harare as the city is trying to force residents to pay their bills after companies which supply water chemicals to the local authority notified council that they will stop supplies over a $7 million debt.

The city, which last year, got the green light to disconnect defaulters without a court order provided it followed provisions of the Harare (Water) By-laws S.164-1913, said it will also be surrendering some of the debtors to its debt collectors Wellcash.

The by-law requires that council gives 24 hour notices to affected parties before disconnecting supplies.

Harare is owed $700 million by Government, residents and business.

The capital’s financial woes are mounting with the city owing its creditors more than $440 million. Council was recently forced into making weekly payment plans with most of the institutions.

Harare is now paying the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (zimra) $500 000, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) $200 000, Zimbabwe Development Fund (zimdef) $25 000, Tragic Security $25 000, ZADA Construction $30 000, HMMAS (stop order) $200 000, Zesa Holdings $130 000 and $300 000 to various companies which supply water chemicals.

The city’s corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme yesterday confirmed that disconnections were inevitable.

“Yes, we are upping water disconnections following notification by suppliers of water treatment chemicals that they will soon stop supplying us if we fail to pay them for chemicals supplied. Water disconnections are the only option to force customers to pay for the water consumed,” he said.

“Municipal water requires huge funding for it to get to households. Failure to pay for water affects service delivery. We are surrendering some of the debtors to Wellcash. All customers should appreciate the importance of bill payment. Paying bills guarantees service delivery.”

Cash flow problems continue to haunt the city as residents anticipate another debt write-off before the 2018 elections.

Harare says it lost about $335 million revenue in 2013 when Government ordered local authorities to write off debts, but the corresponding obligations to NSSA to zimra to the Local Authorities Pension Fund and to other statutory bodies were not written off.

The city’s revenue has been declining since it parted ways with Wellcash Debt Collectors, whose operations were frustrated by pressure groups.

The city says Wellcash Debt Collectors brought in more than $3,3 million directly, while a further $20 million due to council was paid to council by residents who were served with letters of demand.

The city re-engaged Wellcash recently with the hope of changing its fortunes.

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