Zvishavane rolls out prepaid water meters
ZVISHAVANE — Council has announced plans to roll out prepaid water meters to boost revenue collection.
The local authority has been collecting about 35 percent of its US$6,5 million budget, which has been static for the past three years.
Council is owed over US$25 million in water charges and rates by residents and commercial customers in the mining town, with Shabanie Mine being the biggest debtor owing the local authority US$10 million.
Town secretary, Tinoda Mukuti, said council would roll out the prepaid water meters around July after carrying out an audit to determine the amount of water the local authority is losing through leakages.
“We have already flighted tenders for the supply of prepaid water meters, which we want to start installing in July of this year, starting with the central business district before we move to the low density suburbs and finally the high density suburbs where comprehensive consultations will be made,” said Mukutu.
“Already, council has roped in a local consultancy firm, Zimit, which is carrying out a water audit to determine the amount of treated water council is losing to leakages. Council will be guided by the findings and this will pave way for the roll out of prepaid meters. We are also going to have a computerised system which will inform us on any pipe burst and leakages in the town,” he said.
He said bulk water meters would also be installed along the town’s major pipeline to account for both raw and treated water from the Ngezi Water Works so that they would be able to monitor leakages.
Recently, council revamped its water treatment works as well as its sewer reticulation system after the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund availed a US$900 000 grant for the project.
The move to install prepaid meters is likely to meet stiff resistance from residents, most of whom are now unemployed following the closure of Shabanie Mine in 2008.
The mine employed about 5 000 people before its closure.
The unemployment situation has been exacerbated by the closure of Sabi Gold Mine, which has since been placed under judicial management.
Delta Beverages shut down its depot two years ago owing to viability challenges.
This left many families resorting to gold panning to eke out a living.
Zvishavane is not the first municipality to pursue water meters.
Nearly all the major towns and cities are engaged in heated debate with their residents over this initiative, with Harare having taken the lead about two years ago.
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