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Saturday, 24 August 2019

BYO COUNCIL IN TURMOIL OVER WATER DISCONNECTIONS

BULAWAYO City councillors will this week engage council management with the hope of stopping the wave of water disconnections that the local authority embarked on since yesterday to recover what is owed to the council.


On Friday, the city’s town clerk, Mr Christopher Dube announced that they will be embarking on the water disconnections to recover over $180 million owed to the local authority.

However, acting mayor, Councillor Tinashe Kambarami yesterday said they were already engaging the city’s management with the hope of halting the disconnections, noting there was a need for the local authority to resort to other means of debt recovery outside the disconnections.
Clr Kambarami revealed that councillors had already advised management to identify other revenue streams that would see the local authority not relying on rates and rentals as their main source of revenue.

“This is something that we already spoke about as councillors during our supplementary budget presentation where we said there was an urgent need to identify new revenue streams. Actually we identified issues like parking, prepaid water meters and truck stops to mention just a few. Our vision is to copy what was done by the city of Cape Town where residents are paying next to nothing with the municipality there having diversified by identifying revenue streams outside the rates and rentals,” said the acting mayor.

He said there was a need for the local authority not to turn a blind eye to the plight of residents as a majority were unemployed with the few who were employed getting a meagre salary.

“We are in a situation where already residents are having constant electricity cuts therefore as councillors we feel that by disconnecting their water supplies we are worsening their burden, and not going in tandem with our goal of turning this city into a smart city. 

“Further I believe we must consult our ratepayers with the goal of identifying other means of debt recovery outside water disconnections, bearing in mind that water is a basic human right and no one can survive without water,” said Clr Kambarami.

The acting mayor however, implored residents not to relax by not paying their rates but rather endeavour to pay whatever they could monthly.

In a statement, Mr Dube said the disconnections commenced in five of the city’s wards — wards 3, 20, 22, 23 and 24 — yesterday before spreading to other areas this week.

He further advised residents who may have challenges making full payments to approach the city council for negotiations on payment plans in order to avoid water disconnections.

“Residents are encouraged to avoid being inconvenienced by these necessary recovery measures by availing themselves to the following: Approach any of council’s revenue offices and enter into a payment arrangement that will protect you against any of the recovery measures being taken. Ideally, a payment arrangement acceptable to council involves an initial payment of 10 percent of the total outstanding debt followed thereafter by making monthly payments of current bill plus 10 percent (minimum) of the outstanding debt until it is paid in full,” said the town clerk.

“Honouring the arrangement made will have the effect of continuously protecting you against any of the recovery measures that council takes against debtors and also ensures that the account is interest free,” said the town clerk. 

According to the latest council report the local authority is owed a total of $189 942 350 with residents owing the bulk of the amount at $110 705 072, industry and commercial debtors owe; $71 900 819, Government departments; $3 406 531 while parastatals owe; $3 929 928. Sunday News

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