Locadia Mavhudzi Midlands Correspondent
Gweru residents have expressed mixed feelings over the supplementary budget proposal that will result in up to 100 percent increase in water and rates charges.

Gweru City Council has proposed a $79 million supplementary budget up from $46 million approved by Government earlier this year.

The local authority conducted supplementary budget consultative meetings in all the 17 wards over the weekend where a majority of residents said they cannot afford increases as they have not received any salary increases, while on the other hand council is failing to provide satisfactory services.

Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association president Mr Cornelia Selipiwe said the council should devise other financial strategies and not put pressure on residents whose budgets were already strained by the growing cost of living expenses.

“We do not tolerate any attempt to increase service charges at this point in time,” he said. “The majority of the residents are vendors and low income earners who are struggling to survive. People are failing to pay council bills at current rates. We urge the city fathers to come up with other ways of boosting revenue.”

Mr Selipiwe said council should embark on capital projects that have capacity to boost revenue.

“What surprises most is that council is always targeting residents yet it has other income avenues such as Ascot stadium which needs minimal renovations before it can begin to generate money,” he said.

“On the other hand council has since unbundled Go Beer Breweries into three companies but is taking long to operationalise those companies. We recommend that council considers effective ways of generating money.”

Vice chairperson of the Women’s Coalition Gweru Chapter, Miss Florence Guzha, said the council should improve water service delivery before they start engaging people on tariff hikes.

“Residents, especially women are disgruntled over the water situation,” she said. “Imagine people access water once a week in some areas and even once a month for high lying areas. Council must not further short change residents by hiking charges for services which are not being provided.”

Notable proposals include burial fees which will be increased from $100 to $200, while ambulance fees will be $30 up from $15.

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