Harare’s flawed water billing systems irks residents

HARARE residents have expressed concern over the city council’s patently flawed water billing systems which have seen some households going for six months while receiving estimated water consumption bills.Residents said they last received their bills in June this year with authorities failing to explain or justify the unprecedented anomaly in their systems.

Before June, the last bills had been delivered in April 2020, with consolidated rates for January, February and March.

In view of this development, the Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has urged the City of Harare to issue monthly bills to ratepayers, deploy their water meter readers to physically do monthly household water meter readings and provide a consistent refuse collection service.

“There is no refuse collection in most suburbs, resulting in increased heaps of uncollected garbage at shopping centres, open spaces, street corners and in drainages,” HRT said in a statement.

“However, the City of Harare has increased its rates three times this year alone. Consequently, most ratepayers have accumulated unmanageable debt to the Council.

“The total amount of money that residents owe to the City includes water consumption and refuse collection charges.

“They have water meter readers who are not doing household water meter readings.”

HRT added, “The City of Harare is not providing ratepayers with monthly rates bills to keep them up to date with their rates payment statuses.

“The residents are complaining that the bills are not affordable and there is no hope for paying them.

“With the Covid-19 outbreak, there is no hope that the City of Harare would be able to recover the accumulating debt by ratepayers.”

In view, of the failures by the City of Harare to issue monthly rate bills, the HRT recommends that the council deploy water meter readers every month to physically do household meter readings, so that water consumption bills are not estimated.

“To deploy refuse collectors to collect garbage every week as per billing system, to avoid and the emergence of dumping sites,” the residents representative said.

“Facilitate reasonable payments plan for rate payers to clear their outstanding arrears and the refuse collectors must collect all garbage in the community without being selective to pick what type of garbage they want to collect from households.”

HRT added, “In summation, the City Council has failed to fulfil its duties in terms of delivering monthly rates bills and to provide refuse collection services.

“As long as residents are not receiving the services, it will remain a huge task for the City of Harare to receive payments from disgruntled residents.

“Service provision suffers from poor governance systems.”

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