Bulawayo residents drowning in outrageous bills

Bulawayo councillors raised concerns at the recent full council meeting over exorbitant bills issued to residents, claiming they demotivate ratepayers from paying.

Ward 3 Councillor Mxolisi Mahlangu called for investigations into some of the outrageous bills charged to residents.

He cited the case of a resident in Emhlangeni whose monthly bills averaged at least US$500 until their water was disconnected.

“Your Worship, this is a huge concern with a negative snowball effect on residents motivation to pay,” Mahlangu said. “Residents complain that they pay, yet bills remain high. To me, this is a self-inflicted injury we give ourselves as council.”

“How can a household consume US$400-500 worth of water monthly? Normal bills average $55-$75. How can the council issue such outrageous bills without investigation?”

Mahlangu also raised the issue of delayed RTGS payment captures in residents’ accounts.

Councillor Felix Madzana added to the billing concerns, noting they had been repeatedly raised in council meetings.

“Residents constantly complain about bills. We need specific timeframes to address the billing system. It’s unacceptable for residents to visit council offices repeatedly for the same issue. We must set timeframes for solutions, and if not met, responsible departments must report why.”

City Mayor David Coltart agreed with the need for investigations into exorbitant bills. He also suggested adopting smart electronic billing to reduce paper costs.

“We need to be a smart city and send bills electronically, like Johannesburg,” Coltart said. “We must also have transparency. Residents and stakeholders must access billing information on our website, understanding rates and standard charges.”

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