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Water barometer - Issue 3
October 08, 2012
Final Demand issuance to Residents not the Solution to the Water
The Harare Residents
Trust (HRT) has been receiving shocking reports of at least 50 residents'
cases a day that have been issued with letters of final demands
and summons from the City of Harare. This development has come amid
revelations that the city fathers are in a drive to recover the
outstanding debt from the residents since 2009, in order to pay
huge bonuses and allowances to their employees, and not to improve
service provision. However during the period 2009 to 2010 the Harare
City Council was using estimates to bill the residents, resulting
in the accumulation of the huge debts based upon speculation and
not factual information. The HRT therefore calls for the cancellation
of debts from the residents from the period 2009 to 2010 since this
was characterised but an unfair billing system which did not reflect
how much the household had consumed for the period under review.
who have been seriously affected by this challenge are mostly living
in the high density suburbs like Rugare, Mufakose, Kambuzuma, Crowborough,
Highfield, Glen Norah, Glen View, and Kuwadzana among other suburbs.
The debt that is being demanded by the Harare City Council from
the residents ranges from just above US$250 to several thousands
of dollars. Inasmuch as the HRT appreciates that residents have
an obligation to pay for the public services that are provided by
the council, it should be reiterated here that 'as long the
city management refuse to incentivise rates payment, and reject
pleas or demands for debt cancellation, poor revenue collection
will persist without a solution in sight. Debt cancellation encourages
more people to settle their accurate bills while confrontation creates
disharmony, and therefore reluctance to settle unjustified and illegal
bills. Debt cancellation is the best alternative available because
it creates a win - win situation between the city fathers
and the residents. This is a practical approach to debt recovery
which will certainly yield meaningful progress in as far as water
provision is concerned. As the HRT we demand a genuine, accountable
and responsive leadership on service delivery issues who have a
passion for improving the livelihoods of the residents of Harare
and not seeking profiteering and personal enrichment. It should
be recalled that before the introduction of the multi - currency
regime the residents of Harare were paying their bills, actually
in advance given the economic challenges. It is only when the multi-currency
regime was introduced that most residents started failing to settle
their bills. And these residents, like the City of Harare are still
in shock, following this economic nightmare. Funds were just wiped
off bank accounts, leaving everyone is a state of destitution. This
implies that the residents are failing to pay for the debt not because
they do not want to pay BUT they do not have the economic capacity
to pay for the debt.
Against a backdrop
of poor resource base, high unemployment rate and souring poverty
levels, residents have been subjected to extremely difficult circumstances
and their ability to pay for public services is greatly distressed.
The HRT therefore calls for the city fathers to come up with comprehensive
and practical strategies to engage residents choked by high outstanding
debts against a collapsed water service delivery system in order
to come up with a workable solution where debt cancellation is a
viable pre-condition. Issuing of summons and letters of final demand
will not meaningfully address the recovery of money by the Harare
City Council from residents. Instead, these will worsen the situation
and further expose residents to liars and criminal groupings that
claim they are working in collusion with some council employees
to write-off debt, and force them to part with their US$20. It will
worsen the ordinary residents' powerlessness and diminish
economic and social capacities.
Below is a snapshot
of the state of water provision in various suburbs in Harare:
View 1, 2, 3 and 8: Water has been consistently supplied
with normal pressure. The quality has improved. No visible particles
seen in the water for about 4 days now. In Glen View 4 pressure
is low during the day but at 10pm the pressure increases.
Norah B: Last week water was available from 8am -
10am from 5pm to 10pm but as from 02/10/12, water was available
from 10am. Residents are fetching water from boreholes, which are
Water was available the whole of last week up to date, only bills
are very high. Residents prefer borehole water.
Water is available from 8pm to 6am and trickles during the day,
sometimes it is dirty. Bills are high in this area.
Western Triangle: Water supply was inconsistent from 12
midday to 5am in the morning. Residents fetch water from shallow
wells for toilets flushing, washing and bathing. Final demands have
been served to residents.
In Geneva most houses do not have water from taps and at times the
pipes are blocked and City Council is not fixing them. Most people
queue up every day at another resident's house to fetch water
because her tap is not broken and everyday there is tap water. These
affected residents still have to pay their water bills and they
owe the city council huge amounts in unpaid bills. There are no
boreholes in the area.
Egypt and Jerusalem: Water is available but low pressure
up to 10am. Bills are high and Final Demands from Harare City Council
have been served to residents. In the Short Line areas the pipes
do not have water from 2006 up to date. The area has no boreholes.
Residents have illegally connected water to the underground pipes
so that they get water from 132nd Crescent. Water is available everyday
but pressure is low. In Jerusalem, Water is available everyday but
bills are high and most residents owe the City Council a lot of
Canaan and Engineering: There is no water from taps because
most pipes are blocked. Residents fetch water from pipes that they
have connected illegally to the main pipes. City Council has not
taken any action for almost 5 years. In the Engineering area, water
is available from 6am - 8pm, but when it's available
during the day the pressure is low while on high ground it trickles.
Final demands were served to most residents in the area.
3: Water has not been available in the evenings from 8pm
- 5am but is dirty and pressure is low on high ground. Final
Demands have been served to most residents.
1, 2, 4, 5: There is no water during the day from 10pm
- 5am. People are fetching water from boreholes. Bills remain
high. In Budiriro 4, there is no water during the day but from 10pm
- 5am. Water is available with normal pressure. Bills are
extremely high. In Budiriro 5 no water supplies during the day but
available from 10pm- 5am, water is available with poor quality and
bills are high. Right now in Budiriro there is no water since Monday.
The Harare Water Distribution Engineer concurred with the residents
and promised that the problem will be rectified by end of day 4
October 2012. The situation remains risky.
ward 34, 35 and 36: Water has been available consistently
in the area. Some old aged people in the area of ward 36 pay a fixed
amount of $23 every month which they afford. The majority of residents
are struggling to pay and have been served final demands.
Some parts of Sunningdale do not have tap water for close to two
years. Water pipes are always bursting. There are five boreholes
in the area, and only three are functional. The water is always
Uplands, Mainway Meadows, Shortson, and Derbyshire: Water
supplies are erratic. Most residents went for the past fortnight
without running water. Most residents rely on wells at their households.
The boreholes at Uplands Shopping Centre are not working. Areas
like Prospect, Parktown, and Cheviot receive water during the night
between 9am and 4am.
and Mbare: Water has been erratic for the past two weeks,
especially from 21 to 23rd of September 2012. Most parts of Mbare
water supplies are consistent. Mbare National along Runyararo, Ruredzo
and Mbare Beatrice Cottages they fetch water from the opening space
along St George's Street.
and Mt Pleasant: Water supplies are erratic in the community
as residents receive water during the night. Residents are desperately
in need of this precious liquid as some have gone for years without
it. Some residents buy 5000 litres for us$50.00-$60.00 and this
makes residents reluctant to pay rates to Harare City Council.
Lorne, Umwinsdale and Manyonga Rivers: Clinics have no
water and there is uneven distribution of water in these areas.
Burst pipes that Council is failing to repair are a cause for concern.
Residents have complained of unfair water billing as they claim
that they are paying for air pressure that comes out of taps and
not water. Residents interviewed in this area demanded that Harare
City Council should ensure that all the money which is collected
from water services should be directly ploughed back to improve
the water services and distribution network.
Dzivaresekwa and Warren Park - Last week areas like Kuwadzana
and Dzivarasekwa experienced water shortages for four days. Kuwadzana
Extension had no water from Friday 21 September to 23 September
2012. In Warren Park, some houses in 31st Crescent had no water
from 19 September to 28 September 2012.
and Rugare: These areas had no water for the whole week.
The residents have resorted to the use of shallow wells and boreholes.
But at times the boreholes are overwhelmed by the residents.
Visit the Harare
Residents' Trust fact
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