The Harare City Council has dismissed as false allegations that it has secretly increased water charges following the delivery of hefty water bills this month.
Instead, the authorities through the City’s Corporate Communications Manager Mr Michael Chideme, said they have simply adjusted the charges according to the current inflation rate.
“We have not increased water charges, what we have simply done is that we have adjusted the water tariffs according to the inflation rate now.
“In US dollar terms the amounts have remained the same, so it’s just an adjustment to copy with the inflation so that we are always able to provide the services for water delivery”, he said.
Chideme said water isn’t subsidized so residents have to pay for everything.
“Everything that we do is funded so it’s just adjusting so that we remain operational”.
“There is no government subsidy on water. Water is essential but for the essential service to remain there, it has to be paid for by the consumers so the consumers need to foot the bill for the water so that they continue receiving”, he added.
Residents have complained about the recent bills which seemed to reflect increased charges, a situation which was worsened by the Covid19 lockdown as many are not working.
Chideme however said the Council had consolidated charges backdated from January.
“The bills people are receiving now are consolidated for the month of January, February and March so, yes, they will reflect huge amounts but you have an option of a payment arrangement”, he said.
He added that Harare is still facing water shortages because “there is not enough water so what we are simply doing is that we are managing the distribution of water. We have a very strict demand and where there is no water we are mounting bowsers. We are trying to manage the situation.
“Our supply dams cannot manage to supply the whole city. We are always constricted in terms of water treatment chemicals so we manage to treat reduced amounts so that we can stretch our resources for longer periods so that the city does not go dry.
“For us to continue giving services we have to adjust our charges according to the inflation rate so that we are continuously in business. The moment we charge substandard rates it means the services that people want will not be there.
Harare and the dormitory towns it is supposed to supply with water, such as Norton and Chitungwiza, have continued to face water challenges over the past years leading to the increased drilling of boreholes and outbreaks of diseases.