Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO City Council will today start disconnecting water supplies to defaulting rate payers as the municipality moves to recover what it is owed by residents and commercial entities in the city.
Residents have, however, urged Government to quickly intervene to avert a crisis in the city.
In a statement yesterday the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, warned rate payers of the impending water disconnections and urged individuals and businesses with outstanding debts to settle them or risk having their water disconnected.
Council is owed more than $100 million by residents and the business community.
“The City of Bulawayo would like to advise stakeholders and residents that we will be disconnecting water supplies with immediate effect on all residential and commercial properties whose accounts are in arrears,” said the Town Clerk.
He said the disconnections would commence in five of the city’s wards today before spreading to other areas next week.
“Disconnections will start this weekend (24 and 25 August 2019) in wards 20, 22, 23 and 24 (Nkulumane) and Ward 3 in the eastern areas. Residents are therefore encouraged to bring their accounts up to date in order to avoid this inconvenience. Payments may be made at all District offices and at the Revenue Hall or through the mobile phones or bank transfers. Council further advises that the Nkulumane revenue office will be open on Saturday, 24 August 2019 from 08:00 to 13:00 hours,” said Mr Dube. Ward 3 encompasses Suburbs, Hume Park, Killarney, Waterlea, Orange Grove, Queens Park East, Romney Park, Sunnyside, Paddonhurst, Kumalo, Glengarry, Parklands, Woodville and Mahatshula suburbs.
Wards 20, 22, 23, 24 are all in Nkulumane suburb.
Mr Dube advised residents who may have challenges making full payments to approach the city council for negotiations on payment plans in order to avoid water disconnections.
“Residents are encouraged to avoid being inconvenienced by these necessary recovery measures by availing themselves to the following: Approach any of council’s revenue offices and enter into a payment arrangement that will protect you against any of the recovery measures being taken. Ideally, a payment arrangement acceptable to council involves an initial payment of 10 percent of the total outstanding debt followed thereafter by making monthly payments of current bill plus 10 percent (minimum) of the outstanding debt until it is paid in full,” said the Town Clerk.
“Honouring the arrangement made will have the effect of continuously protecting you against any of the recovery measures that council takes against debtors and also ensures that the account is interest free.”
In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo United Residents Association chairperson Mr Winos Dube urged Government to intervene in the matter to ensure that ratepayers are protected in these difficult economic times.
Mr Dube also urged residents to be responsible citizens and make efforts to meet their obligations as residents of the city.
He however, called on council to find more innovative ways of generating revenue than relying on rate payers.
“We call on government to intervene on the matter and ensure that the resident’s right to water is protected. This is a clear indication that things are difficult. We urge government to continue working to turn around the economic fortunes of the country and to intervene to protect citizens from such harsh decisions,” Mr Dube said.
“It is not by design that we owe council but economic challenges visible to all and the obtaining situation generally is hindering the majority of residents to service their accounts. We urge Bulawayo residents to make efforts to pay the little that they have regularly. It is better to pay the little that you can afford on a regular basis than to totally ignore the debt and watch it ballooning. However, we want councils that are innovative and not dependent on rate payers. There must be commercial inflows that are sustaining councils and subsidising rate payers. What happened to Aisleby Farm and Ingwebu Breweries, once cash cows for the council? The council of the time made such investments so that they could finance council projects, putting less pressure on the rate payer.” — @andile_tshuma.