Uproar over purchase of prepaid water meters

Chitungwiza Town Council has come under fire for the purchase of 3 000 prepaid water meters valued at $265 000 from a Chinese firm with residents calling for the abandonment of the project.

Harare Residents Trust Director, Precious Shumba said Chitungwiza municipality should have made wide consultations before investing in a project widely rejected by the residents.

Council Director of engineering services, Alfonse Tinofa last week said that council was in the procurement stage and the municipality had deposited $265, 000 for 3, 000 smart meters.

Tinofa revealed that the meters were expected in the country at the end of January 2014 and the project would be implemented at the beginning of February, 2014.

Said Shumba: “Residents are clear that prepaid water meters are not the solution to water challenges experienced in the town.

“If residents were not consulted and have not been involved in deciding about prepaid water meters, that project should not proceed until residents have had their say,” he said.

Shumba revealed that consultations made by HRT on the issue showed that residents had indicated that they would resist the installation of the prepaid meters as it compromised their right to water.

“The right approach was to consult residents and explain to them how the poor were going to be protected under this new arrangement,” said Shumba, adding that residents had no information on the advantages and disadvantages of the prepaid water meters.

Queried Shumba: “Will the council provide water to the poor who cannot afford the cost of water?”

He told The Zimbabwean that the installation of prepaid water meters was not the solution to addressing the water woes experienced in Chitungwiza but the solution lay in increasing water pumping and distribution.

“The city authorities have shown that they cannot handle funds generated from revenue collection for water and infrastructural development and upgrading,” he said, accusing the local authorities of having misplaced priorities.

“Salaries allowances and trips have continued gobbling most of the funds from the water account instead of guaranteeing the people’s right to water as stipulated by the Constitution,” said Shumba.

Chitungwiza residents have in the past complained about the inaccurate billing system where they were asked to pay ‘unrealistic’ amounts of money for water which was seldom available.

Seke residents receive water two days a week while Zengeza residents get the precious commodity twice weekly, a development which has seen the majority of residents sink wells and boreholes at their homes.

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