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CHITUNGWIZA Municipality will soon commercialise its water and sanitation services under a pro-poor regime, a development the authority said will ensure every property gets a certain quantity for no charge as long as they pay the fixed rate to be gazetted.
Currently, consumers pay 38 cents per cubic metre against the cost of supplying the commodity which is in the excess of 80 cents.
Chitungwiza Municipality, which gets most of its water from Harare City from the latter’s Lake Chivero reservoir through the Morton Jeffrey Water Works when Prince Edward Dam in not able to cope, currently owes its sister urban authority about $4 million.
Works Director Engineer Maxwell Karenyi told Chitowner in an interview that the resolution by council was a sustainability strategy to be implemented once a commercial company has been established. Under it, Chitungwiza Municipality will be the majority shareholder, while the other partners will be the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (a conglomerate of residents associations operating in the city), and a financial promoter.
“When the company has been commissioned, possibly around mid year, tarrifs will be reviewed from the current sub-economic rates which are not sustainable and have virtually turned Chitungwiza into a council of beggars perpetually dependent on donor funding to a self-reliant establishment capable of affording a better service to its customers.
While there are long-term plans to give life to Chitungwiza’s own water source — the Muda Dam project - whose designs have already been done by Zinwa and has been projected to cost $113 million, what has compelled council to hold on to it for a long time is unavailability of funding.
Engineer Karenyi said commercial tariffs were one of the ways through which council would be put in an improved financial standing and hopes to resuscitate the dam project would be livelier, ultimately ensuring a 24/7 water supply to the city in the long-term.
Chitungwiza’s water demand is pegged at 62 mega litres per month, a tenth of the bulk water produced by the supplier, Harare, and with the commercialisation effected, there is bound to be regular and timeous payment of the supplied commodity.
“Naturally, we will be able to raise the capital to invest in water infrastructure and ultimately attract investment in the form of grants and bank loans as we will enjoy the privilege of a healthy balance sheet,” explained Engineer Karenyi.