Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) says the estimated water billing system used by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is a burden to residents who are being overcharged at a time when they are not receiving water supplies due to water shortages.
This comes at a time when the world is celebrating World Water Week under the theme ‘seeing the unseen- the value of water’.
Bulawayo residents have been complaining about estimated bills with some receiving as much as $70 000.
Speaking during a press conference, Tuesday, MIHR Coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said the commemorations are coming at a time when Bulawayo is facing another acute water shortage.
He said residents are still receiving estimated bills and some are complaining of continuously increasing bills.
“We have spent the past two weeks consulting our structures, physically and virtually and it has become very clear that the issue of estimated bills is a thorn to the residents, the residents are feeling the pinch, and residents are unhappy at the estimated bills, especially this time when people are going for 72 hours and very soon we are going to see the extension of a 72 hours,” said Maphosa.
He said some areas go for between 15 and 20 days without receiving tap water but the bills are not adjusted.
“We are also experiencing this because we also live in the same neighbourhood and we are experiencing the same problems so we are saying to BCC, we understand that it is not entirely your making and I need to underline, the water shortage situation is not entirely their making but there is share responsibilities,” he said.
“The shared responsibilities are here, we are in a drought situation, we never had good rains our dams did not fill up. Number two, we have poor management of our catchment areas which is a supply catchment of our dams not only by City Council but other authorities regarding to mining, this is resulting to a lot of diversions, especially of rivers.”
Maphosa also appealed to the local authority to attend to water pipe bursts so as to save the precious liquid.
He added that they will petition the council on the water issue and currently residents are appending their signatures to the petition which will be delivered to the council on 1 September.