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» » Masvingo residents express mixed feeling over pre-paid water meters

 Pre-paid water meter

Terrence Ndowora

Masvingo residents have expressed mixed feelings over Masvingo City Council’s proposed plans to install pre-paid water meters to alleviate challenges regarding non-payment of water bills, TellZim News can report.

The pre-paid water system involves a billing system where consumers pay for the service upfront, using a gadget that is specially designed with smart card technology.

Residents are arguing that council is not ready to install the meters, as residents do not receive a constant water supply and the city is without the economic capacity and infrastructure to support a roll out.

Contacted for comment, Masvingo Town Clerk Engineer Edward Mukaratirwa said by 2022, council will be able to implement the plan as they do not have capacity to install prepaid water meters at the moment.

"We do not have the capability to install the water meters as of now but by next year council would have secured the finances to make sure the plan will move as proposed," said Mukaratirwa.

Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) spokesperson Godfrey Mutimba said council should desist from installing prepaid meters, as they go against people’s constitutional right to water.

“We say no to the introduction of pre-paid water meters as it a violation to human constitutional right to access to water. It is the duty of council to provide clean water to the residents.

“In a survey we conducted few years ago, we discovered that such projects even failed in Western countries such as France and Germany because it needs huge amount of capital to process it and every resident will have to fork out at least US$500 which is unacceptable,” said Mutimba.

Masvingo Residents Forum (MRF) chairperson Brighton Ramusi said pre-paid water meters should start at government departments and businesses that were not paying, and not at individual households.

“Residents should be approached when such plans are being drafted such that they understand and know how the program is going to work.

“Council should start with government departments which are the biggest debtors. The pre-paid water meters will help them to recover money owed by government departments,” Ramusi said.

Masvingo Service Delivery Residents and Ratepayers Association (MASDRRA) secretary general Moses Mavhusa however said they welcomed the plan but with several conditions.

“The introduction of prepaid water system by the local authority is a welcome program provided there is an unbiased proven feasibility study which considers inputs from ratepayers, business community and other stakeholders as it will leave most of the questions answered,” Mavhusa said.

Recently council failed to deliver pre-paid water meters in Mucheke D Extension to residents who bought infill stands in the high density suburb and paid US$400 each for pre-paid water meter installations.

Council installed regular water meters instead of the much more expensive prepaid ones that were paid for.

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