THE Bulawayo City Council has launched a water disconnection blitz on all consumers who are defaulting payment of rates and rentals, in a bid to recover over $115 million owed to the local authority.
Responding to written questions sent via e-mail, BCC senior public relations officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the blitz is aimed at all those who are not paying regularly.
“Council is disconnecting water supplies for those who are not paying regularly. Use of other legal processes available like call-in letters, final demands and summons and also trying persuasions by having one-to–one contacts have been implemented by the local authority to recover what is owed has previously been used in avoiding the disconnection route,” said Mrs Mpofu.
The latest revelations come at a time when the High Court of Zimbabwe ruled that water disconnections are illegal.
Commenting on the matter, Bulawayo United Residents Association chairperson Mr Winos Dube said while they condemned water disconnections, residents should also play their part and pay whatever they can to the local authority.
“We fully understand that the city’s economy is at its lowest, with factories closing and a growing number now turning to the informal sector for source of income but I believe residents should also play their part and pay whatever they can every month no matter how small it is. I personally believe if we strive to pay whatever we can get every month the local authority will not be forced to disconnect water because at least an effort will be shown,” said Mr Dube.
Of the $115 009 693 that is owed to the local authority through unpaid rates and rentals, residents owe $65 265 438.
Most local authorities claim that consumers have not been paying their bills although their previous balances were scrapped in 2013 following a Government directive. The latest developments come at a time when the city is faced with a dire water situation after it emerged that BCC will be forced to decommission two of its supply dams — Umzingwane and Upper Ncema — as water levels dwindle.