THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) is owed $2,6 billion by its various clients and has adopted the installation of prepaid water meters as a debt recovery strategy resulting in over 7 000 meters having been installed so far.
The water authority is rolling out the prepaid water meters in small towns, growth points and rural service centres where it provides treated water.
Hwange is one of the towns where the programme is being implemented.
Responding to Chronicle questions, Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said the non-payment of bills affects the execution of the parastatal’s mandate including procurement of water treatment chemicals.
“Zinwa is owed in excess of $2, 6 billion by various clients across the country, which it is working on recovering. As at November 30, 2021, various clients, including Government departments, parastatals, irrigators, agricultural estates, mines and schools owed Zinwa a total of $2 606 402 553. Some of the money has been outstanding for periods running into years. Of this amount, domestic consumers owed $334 778 549 with Government departments owing $748 706 302, irrigators $543 788 239 while schools owe Zinwa $48 676 088. Parastatals owe $116 570 027 and mines owe $84 519 585,” said Mrs Munyonga.
“This non-payment of water bills by these various clients has negatively impacted Zinwa’s s operations as the authority requires these resources to procure critical inputs needed for water production and maintenance of water provision infrastructure such as dams and water treatment plants.”
She said the inputs include water treatment chemicals, fuel, electricity and the payment of statutory obligations such as taxes and levies.
“The authority is making efforts to recover this money, including through engaging those defaulting clients, taking legal action and creating awareness among water users on the need to and importance of paying for water and on the inextricable relationship that exists between service delivery and payment for water,” she said.
“To try and curb the further growing of the debtors book, Zinwa is rolling out prepaid water meters in the small towns, growth points and rural service centres where it provides treated water and as at January 16, 2022 a total of 7 356 prepaid water meters had been installed across the country in Hwange, Murehwa, Mutoko, Nyanga, Chivhu, Karoi and Mvurwi.”
She said roll out of the prepaid water meter scheme follows the successful piloting of the concept in Chivhu and Mvurwi since 2019.
Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa is targeting to have installed 35 000 clients on the prepaid metering system by the end of the year.
“These meters allow clients to pay for water in advance and use later, giving them greater control of their water consumption patterns; at the same time allowing Zinwa to collect revenue for sustainable service delivery,” she said.
“The prepaid water meters are also helping in the elimination of some billing concerns that were prevalent with the post-paid metering system such as the use of estimates where clients had no meters.”
Mrs Munyonga said the parastatal is also working on the improvement of service delivery in various parts of the country through the rehabilitation of a number of water treatment plants and water reticulation infrastructure.
She said the rehabilitation exercise is meant to help restore the water treatment plants to their original design capacity and to also expand their water production capacity.
“A total of 40 water treatment plants are targeted for rehabilitation in 2022. Already Zinwa has successfully rehabilitated water treatment plants in Esigodini, Murambinda, Chivi, Buffalo Range and Chimhanda while rehabilitation work is quite advanced in Dete, Filabusi, Coleen Bawn, Nyanga, Murehwa, Rutenga and Mberengwa,” she said.
Zinwa yesterday engaged its stakeholders in Hwange over rolling out of prepaid water meters as it dispelled myths that the exercise will make water inaccessible to members of the public.