The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has resolved to connect water supplies and bill Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle residents amid revelations that the local authority is losing US$45 000 in non-revenue water due to the number of properties that remained unconnected to the water system.
The project has 11 276 households that require connection to both water and sewer. Residents were previously required to initially pay US$128 for connection before the figure was lowered to US$85 due to the low intake from residents who argued that the amount was unaffordable.
The local authority this year through the Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) procured 4 600 water meters with Water Worx purchasing a further 7 868 bringing the total of water meters purchased for the project to 12 468. That saw the figure residents had to pay for water and sewer connections being reduced to US$22,97 and US$17,30 respectively but again residents were reportedly reluctant to take up the offer for connection.
According to the latest council report the local authority has since resolved to go ahead and connect all the households in the suburb with the required amounts debited to the house owner’s respective service account.
“The owner can then clear it at the prevailing bank exchange rates from the date of installation. Failure to clear balance in stipulated period of time will result in water cut-off. Having identified that financial incapacitation of the beneficiaries had slowed down the project to unacceptable level and to get it back on track. Council will utilise Devolution Funds to cater for the contractor’s labour costs and recoup this cost from the monthly instalments paid by the beneficiaries,” reads the council report.
The local authority noted that if the outstanding properties were connected it would see their coffers being boosted by $8 699 760 through the collection of revenue.
“The current non-revenue-water for Cowdray Park was 50 percent which translated to US$45 000 per month. Annually this translated to $45 114 000 which was approximately 65 percent of the cost of fully connecting Hlalani Kuhle. If the outstanding properties were connected, council would collect $8 699 760 annually.
“This exercise will be done segment by segment starting with segment 15, which has 2000 stands as a pilot exercise. Majority of the segment 15 residents are up to date with their payments. The stand pipes will now be removed as per council resolution once installation of water meters is complete in a segment,” reads the report.
According to the report since October last year when the local authority reduced the connection fees, 3 591 residents applied for connection, with the figure going down monthly. Since the implementation of the lockdown in March this year just 483 residents applied for the reconnections.
Cowdray Park Hlalani Kuhle has over the years presented the Bulawayo City Council with a headache as the suburb had no sewer or water reticulation system which saw residents in the suburb resorting to the illegal construction of Blair toilets to avoid open defecation. The houses have had no running water since the suburb was established in 2006.
BCC and Bulawayo Home Seekers Consortium Trust (BHSCT), who developed the area, had previously both been refusing to accept responsibility for the situation, resulting in the area not being connected to the city’s water supply system.