Harare gets US$15m for prepaid water

Debra Matabvu
The Harare City Council will start installing prepaid water meters this month after securing US$15 million to that end.

Town House wants to install 100 000 meters by December 2018, but will exempt Borrowdale, Greendale, Mabvuku and Tafara which have not had running water for years.

Five contractors will supply the meters after successful bids at the State Procurement Board and their participation in a pilot project (June-December 2016). The suppliers are Utility Systems, Syvern Investments, Hukoshwa, Industrial Chemicals and Tricon, whose meters will cost between US$175 and US$200 per unit.

Harare Water director, Engineer Hosiah Chisango, told The Sunday Mail that prepaid metering would conserve water. “We are still finalising the paperwork, which includes final pricing for the meters. The contractors will supply 20 000 water meters each, which will be distributed across the city, with the exception of some suburbs. Residents will pay for the meters over time,” he said.

Each meter will be connected to a local data concentrator with radio signals to communicate with a principal server at the main water station. The meters have batteries that last three to seven years without being charged or changed. A rate limiter blocks water when one fails to recharge, though allowing water to run at reduced pressure.

Urban planning expert Mr Nyasha Mutsindikwa said: “While the local authority will be able to collect more revenue through the payments that will be made by residents, the system might disadvantage the poor and vulnerable. So, there is need for policies to address such situations.” Mr James Mapfumo of Kuwadzana suburb said, “It is very efficient as one will be able to use the water after paying for it.”

Sunningdale resident Mr Darlington Chisvo, however, urged caution. “When the pilot for the system was done, we thought it was going to be better as we would be managing our water consumption. However, it is actually worse because we do not have the water even after paying for it.

“And when water supplies resume, the units of kiloliters in the system would have been reduced drastically; we are failing to understand how this system works. “We were also told that the prepaid water meters were connected to a server linked to the main server at Rowan Martin. However, the network is always down and this affects our water supplies.”

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