Helen Kadirire 20 April 2017
HARARE – The Harare City Council (HCC) has rescinded a multi-million
dollar water deal with French firm Veolia Africa (Veolia) after an alert
alleging the company has a dodgy track record of bad service and inflated
In 2016, the local authority and Veolia entered into negotiations pending
the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to restructure and rehabilitate
Harare’s water and waste installations and networks.
According to HCC’s environmental committee minutes, the deal would also
entail acquisition of new assets, management and operations for the
rehabilitation that was meant to reduce physical leakages.
“A letter was received from the Office of the President and Cabinet
through the ministry of Local Government wherein Zimbabwe’s ambassador to
France Rudo Chitiga had alerted government on negative sentiments in the
world over Veolia Africa’s capacity and inefficiency in managing water in
Paris, resulting in the company’s contract being withdrawn for
inefficiency and overcharging. In other countries it had led to riots,”
acting chamber secretary Charles Kandemiri said.
Veolia expressed interest in investing in Harare’s water last year after
noticing the congestion that the city’s system was facing due to an
increased population and obsolete infrastructure.
The company’s business development director met up with mayor Bernard
Manyenyeni to evaluate the current system and draw up proposals that could
ease the water problems.
According to international human rights organisation, Global Exchange, it
noted that Veolia is the largest private water service company in the
world, providing 95 million people with drinking water and 68 million
people with sewer service but has a track record of bad service, high
prices, privatising water while also conducting operations in Israel.
“Veolia operates bus lines through the occupied West Bank, thus connecting
illegal settlements to Israel. The buses do not make stops in any
Palestinian towns and use Israeli occupied roads which have taken land
from Palestinian towns and villages and have restricted passage for
Palestinians between their communities.
“A 2008 investigation by the French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir found
Veolia overcharged Syndicat des Eaux d’Ile de France (SEDIF) 80 to 90
million euros. Based on these overcharged costs, many municipalities in
the US have not renewed their contracts with Veolia in order to improve
service at a better deal. Many cities, including Burley, Idaho, have spent
thousands of dollars repairing Veolia’s poorly constructed treatment
plants. Even in its founding city, Paris, Veolia lost its water management
deal at the end of 2009,” Global Exchange said.