Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has reintroduced water disconnections with immediate effect in a bid to force defaulting residents and businesses to clear arrears amounting to $100 million.
Councillors had in recent months voted against disconnections saying residents were facing economic challenges and therefore disconnecting water supplies would worsen their plight.
The councillors’ position has since changed after realising that residents and businesses are not making any efforts to pay bills despite demanding services.
According to the latest council report some residents have gone for more than a year without paying anything towards clearing their arrears and as such revenue being collected per month is dwindling.
This negative development is crippling council’s ability to offer quality services that residents and businesses expert.
“In order to survive the changing economic environment and continue providing world class services, Council should vigorously explore pragmatic strategies of funding. Implementation of innovative debt recovery strategies would see this council achieving this vision,” reads the council report.
Council said it was therefore imperative to adopt painful measures that assure the sustainable growth of the city and leave a legacy to future generation.
The Financial Services director, Mr Kimpton Ndimande said the decision by council not to reintroduce water disconnections last month had adversely affected cash inflows and incapacitated council’s ability to legally collect money from debtors.
“This sends a wrong message to the debtors who have consistently paid their accounts. It also gives the impression that the regular payers are expected to carry the city. These measures are construed as favouring domestic debtors as opposed to commercial debtors who are being subjected to both measures above,” said Mr Ndimande.
Concurring, the Town Clerk said that cutting of water supplies was in line with the city’s by-laws.
“The by-law is clear and binding in terms of the law. There was no need for that item to have been brought to Council in the first place and the Council’s resolution in that regard is in fact not binding,” said Mr Dube.
According to the Urban Councils Act and the Statutory Instrument 390 of 1980 local authorities can use water disconnections to recover outstanding debts.
Council resolved that water disconnections and attachment of debtors’ property be reviewed in terms of the relevant by-law and also take legal action to its logical conclusion.—@thamamoe