Introduction of prepaid water meters shelved

Harare and Bulawayo have indefinitely shelved plans to introduce prepaid water meters, citing inadequate funds and resident resistance.

Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Martin Moyo said the meters would be installed in the city once all residents embrace the innovation. Some residents were against the programme, Councillor Moyo said. Harare Deputy Mayor Councillor Thomas Muzuva also confirmed that his council has shelved the meters until it comprehensively addresses water supply concerns.

The capital planned to install 170 000 meters beginning in 2012 with 5 000 households in Mabvuku earmarked for a pilot project. Installation would have cost US$1 million. In Bulawayo, the meters were to be installed at 14 000 homes in Cowdray Park where residents have enjoyed free water supplies for the past three years due to billing problems. Prepaid water meters help curb treated water theft and also boost revenue inflows by ensuring consumers pay before receiving supplies.

Residents, Government and business owe Harare City Council US$92 million in unpaid water bills. Bulawayo, which, on average, only collects 30 percent of potential revenue every month, is owed over US$80 million.

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