Harare City Council is forging ahead with plans to install prepaid water meters despite protests from residents. Last week residents’ associations petitioned council over the issue, which they said was not a priority.
Residents argue that pre-paid meters will deprive the poor of a basic necessity. They said prepaid water meters were not a priority after council rolled out a pilot project in Bluffhill, Sunningdale, Kambuzuma, Greendale, Avenues and Avondale.
The city’s acting corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said home owners had asked council to install the meters.
“We are clearly in agreement with individual home owners who are pressurising us to install the meters as early as yesterday. We even have letters from organisations requesting the installation of pre-paid meters on their properties,” said Mr Chideme.
Estate agents managing properties have requested same.
“In this case people need to pay for water to get water. For us to remain relevant as a local authority we need to move with the times,” he said.
He said water provision had to be funded by consumers and council was not deterred by opposition to prepaid water meters because the targeted people (home owners) were in favour of the project.
Harare councillors are fully behind the introduction of the prepaid meters as well.
“If we lived in a developed country people would go for a referendum but we live in Harare, said a councillor who refused to be named.
“We were elected to council, so we will carry out our mandate, he said. “We will not be deterred by four people claiming to represent residents. We are backed by Cabinet approval so we will go ahead with our plans,” said the councillor.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is on the record saying pre-paid water meters are necessary to support local authorities.
“Water provision requires someone to pay for it. In as much as we understand that water is a basic human right, transmission of water should be paid for,” he said.
Pre-paid water meters have been a success story in Uganda, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia among other countries.