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MIHR petitions council on high water bills

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has petitioned the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to suspend the use of the estimated water billing system which has riled residents.

Residents have been receiving high water bills even at a time when the city has effected a water shedding programme due to low water levels at its supply dams.

The petition which has since been submitted to the local authority has 1 513 signatures.

“During the World Water Week as Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) we circulated a petition where we presented concerns to the Bulawayo City Council and we called on BCC to stop doing estimated bills during water shedding as it is a scam and if ever it continues with the estimated bills, it should consider reducing the bills in line with the water shedding schedule,” said Maphosa.

“Within 10 days, we managed to get 1 513 from residents in 56 suburbs.”

He said they managed to deliver the petition to the local authority on Tuesday and BCC has agreed to have an engagement on issues of billing systems.

Pumula legislator Sichelesile Mahlangu also challenged the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) to engage the local authority on the high water bills.

“There was a bill where a resident owed ZWL$9000 a month, they paid ZWL$5000 but later received a bill of over ZWL$400 000, is that possible? I tried inspecting the whole yard to check whether there was any fault, or something but couldn’t find anything,” she said.

 The MP said she had also attended the BCC budget consultation meetings where the council officials said residents’ bills are approximately US$26.

“The City Council had consultation meetings here and I attended in ward 19 and 27, If I remember well, they said rates are US$26 and when they convert to RTGS they use the prevailing interbank rate.”

“In my own opinion, I expect those who waste water to have rates ranging around ZWL$20 000 but when it goes to ZWL$400 000, its already an indication that something is wrong,” said Mahlangu.

Meanwhile, BPRA recently wrote a letter to the town clerk, Christopher Dube questioning why residents had to pay astronomical water bills when they are struggling under a distressed economy.

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