BCC shelves pilot prepaid water meter project

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has shelved plans to carry out a pilot prepaid water meter project in Cowdray Park following massive resistance from the residents who threatened to vandalise the gadgets.

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Council had been piloting the prepaid water meter system in Cowdray Park since last year, arguing that the prepaid system would eliminate billing errors and minimise water wastage.

Latest minutes of the council finance and development committee revealed that the local authority had succumbed to pressure from residents.

hlalakahle

“The senior administrative officer (engineering services) then explained that council had revisited its previous decision which had proposed the installation of prepaid water meters in Hlalani Kuhle with a new proposition that residents of the Hlalani Kuhle residing in areas where water reticulation was complete could start applying for water connections using the normal standard meters,” the minutes read in part.

According to the minutes, each household will pay $255 towards water connections and installation of normal standard meters.

“Council staff had engaged the residents where it was agreed that each resident pays $200 towards development of the project.
They would also be expected to pay $85 towards the water meter and water connection services, with connection being conducted by Bulawayo City Council and Bulawayo Home Seekers Consortium Trust plumbers at an agreed rate of $55 per household. Council workshop would inspect the meters,” the minutes added.

Late last year, council had suggested the suspension of the installation of prepaid meters in Bulawayo following forecasts of a poor 2015/2016 rainfall season that could trigger water-shedding and present challenges to the local authority in managing the gadgets.

Residents and civic society organisations condemned the planned installation of pre-paid water meters as insensitive and discriminating against the poor.

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