Zinwa bemoans councils’ non-payment of bills
From Elita Chikwati in Mutare
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority says it is failing to carry out infrastructural maintenance owing to poor payments by water consumers, especially local authorities.
The parastatal’s workers have also gone for 10 months without salaries due to non-payment for services by consumers.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality is touring Zinwa operations countrywide to get a deeper understanding of the authority’s operations, successes and challenges.
Zinwa director, Engineering and Hydrology Services, Engineer Taurayi Maurukira on Sunday said the authority supplies water to local authorities at low tariffs but still the authority was failing to get meaningful revenue from the service.
“We sell water to local authorities at 1 percent per cubic metre. The authorities sell the same amount of water for a dollar. We have the obligation to supply water and maintain infrastructure.
“The issue of tariffs as regards to operation is key. The cost at which we supply water to the local authorities and the revenue or payment we receive from local councils; there is a huge gap between what we get and our revenue.
“For Wenimbi we pay $42 000 per month for electricity alone, but we are getting about $1 800 from the local authorities and this is negatively impacting on our operations,” he said.
He said there was low uptake of the water by the local community and farmers and Wenimbi Dam was 100 percent full.
“There is a perception that the water is expensive . We are not getting anything from local authorities, while some farmers who are benefiting from our water are not paying. We have tried to go through the Grain Marketing Board stop order but we failed to recover our money,” he said.
Eng Maurukira said in some instances the authority has had to disconnect some farmers over non-payment of bills but there has always been an outcry.
“We do not charge for water but maintenance,” he said.
He also complained of siltation of dams which was also threatening water bodies countrywide.
The committee later visited Osborne Dam where the authority also complained of the same challenges.
Osborne Dam supplies water for irrigation, mining and water station and recently had valves repaired at a cost of $4,5million.
The authority told the committee that the dams require money for maintenance and this could only be achieved if payment of bills improved.
Committee chairman, Cde Wonder Mashange said there was need for stakeholders to work together and come up with an amicable solution.
“Zinwa should sit down with local authorities. Zinwa use a lot of money to construct the dams and they are using a lot of money to maintain the infrastructure. They should sit down and agree on payment terms. We encourage residents to also pay their bills,” he said.
Zinwa is a wholly Government owned entity tasked with managing the country’s water resources.
The authority was created through the ZINWA Act as part of the Government’s efforts to reform the country’s water sector.