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Harare Water's inconsistent billing: A cause for concern
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
September 09, 2009

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has noted with concern the continued and deliberate inconsistent billing system of the City of Harare's department of water as more residents are receiving unjustified and exorbitant bills. The Association has received numerous reports from residents who are disgruntled by the inflated water bills that they are getting from the Council.

Residents have complained that the Harare Water officials have not been conducting any meter readings; a situation that has seen residents getting bills that indicate exaggerated water consumption units. These revelations come after CHRA embarked on an awareness campaign encouraging residents to read their water meters so as to avoid cases of being overcharged by the City of Harare. A Belvedere resident who requested anonymity approached CHRA on the 3rd of September 2009 raising concerns over the exorbitant water bills that he had been receiving from Harare Water. This man in particular read his water meter on a monthly basis and discovered that the water consumption units indicated on his bill and the actual meter readings had a variance of more than 750 units. This revealed that the Harare Water had for the past few months overcharged him water that was worth 17 months. As a result of reading his water meter these months were credited into his account and he will therefore not be paying any water bills till the 17 months have lapsed.

This case is one among many where the Harare Water has been overcharging residents. One wonders whether the Council is deliberately conning residents of their hard earned money while purchasing expensive luxury vehicles or this is a serious case of negligence. Such carelessness and recklessness cannot be tolerated, especially considering the fact that the Council has chosen not to sympathize with default ratepayers regardless of the fact that municipal services have been next to non-existent for the past few years.

Meanwhile, Harare is facing threats of a resurge of the 2008 cholera outbreak that killed over 3000 people as the rainy season is approaching. Instead of dealing with the underlying causes of the disease such as refuse collection and the refurbishing of the sewer systems in the wards, the Council has embarked on a water disconnection spree despite a Cabinet standing order and World Health Organization (WHO) water guidelines that condemn water disconnections as a means to induce bill payments. It is also disappointing to note that the Council seems to be oblivious of the fact that the cholera outbreak was a result of acute water shortages; a situation that Council is deliberately aggravating.

Residents demand order at Harare Water. The water department must conduct meter readings and stop giving residents bills that are based on estimates. The Association urges residents to read their water and electricity meters as well as to keep a record of any bills that they receive to use as reference points when conducting meter readings. CHRA remains committed to advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance as well as lobbying for quality and affordable municipal services.

Visit the CHRA fact sheet

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