Council backtracks on prepaid meters

BULAWAYO City Council is backtracking on its hard-line stance of installing prepaid water meters, in a pilot project targeting Hlalani Kuhle in Cowdray Park, in the face of fierce resistance from residents.

by NQOBILE BHEBHE

Council has now shifted goalposts and is now instead targeting volunteers and companies keen on using meters. The Environment, Water and Climate ministry reportedly instructed local authorities to introduce prepaid water meters in their respective cities and towns to increase revenue collection despite objections from residents.

According to a latest council report, the local authority was now revisiting and amending its December 2013 resolution, which proposed the installation of prepaid water meters.

The report says residents preferred conventional rather than pre-paid water meters.

Area councillor Collet Ndlovu confirmed that council was not able to provide the pre-paid water meters, hence they had suggested installation of the conventional meters. Councillor Clayton Zana accused council of not conducting thorough research.

“The residents wanted stand-alone water meters. He further said that this was the same with electricity. At first, people were not willing to use pre-paid electricity meters, but now almost everyone is using them,” the council report said. “Those who needed pre-paid water meters should be allowed to buy them.”

Deputy mayor Gift Banda concurred with Zana, saying council should start by implementing prepaid water meters with volunteers. “There were many people who were interested in prepaid water meters and this programme was likely to enhance revenue collection,” the report continues.

The local authority argues that the move would effectively manage water use in a city that experiences perennial shortages of the precious liquid.

A tender for the supply of 1 500 prepaid water meters will soon be advertised. Various companies have already demonstrated how prepaid water meters function and their cost. Council said 1 600 meters would cost approximately $360 000.

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