Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
GWANDA Municipality has reduced tariffs by almost 50 percent following an outcry from residents as the charges were now beyond their reach.
The municipality had in July increased fixed water charges to $919,48 for residential areas from $474,89 in June but has since reduced the tariffs to $474,89. Industrial and commercial areas were now paying $3 677,93 but the charges have been reduced to $1 899,56. These charges are with effect from 1 September. Residents have, however, complained that the tariffs are still beyond their reach and called for a further review.
From January and May fixed water charges for residential areas were pegged at $84,50 and $338 for commercials and industrial areas. In an interview, Gwanda Mayor Councillor Jastone Mazhale said the municipality had initially increased the tariffs following an increase of water charges by Zinwa.
“We get our water from Zinwa and they recently increased our water charges by a huge margin which forced us to increase the tariffs. There was an outcry from residents and we had to review the tariffs and see how best to reduce them while at the same time ensuring that we can operate. We decided to compromise mainly on fixed charges but when it comes to water charges it’s difficult as we are billed by Zinwa. We also realised that it was pointless to increase the tariffs when people are not going to be able to pay.
“We have slashed some of the tariffs by 50 percent and we pray that this won’t cause massive gaps. Residents have to understand that as a municipality we get our water from Zinwa which is costly as their charges are high. Zinwa is currently charging us about $14 million per month which is unsustainable. If we were running our own water for the town as a municipality the situation would be better,” he said.
Clr Mazhale said council will continue to lobby Government to ensure the speedy handover of water management from Zinwa to the municipality.
“In June Zinwa increased water charges for a cubic metre to $42 from $7 in May and they further increased to $83 in July and we had to peg our charges at around $120 per cubic metre,” he said.
In an interview after a closed meeting with the municipality management on Wednesday Gwanda Residents Association information and publicity officer, Mr Molvin Dube said while the municipality had reviewed tariffs, they still remained beyond the reach of most residents which called for a further review.
He said members of the association had made it clear to the management during the meeting that residents will not pay the tariffs until they are further reviewed. Mr Dube said there were several other towns where management of water was still under Zinwa such as Beitbridge but Gwanda had higher tariffs. He said residents would continue to engage the Gwanda Municipality management over the matter.
According to the revised water charges schedule residents in the high-density areas have to pay $124,74 per cubic metre for 0-10 cubic metre, while those in the medium density and low-density areas have to pay $132,60 per cubic metre. Other monthly billed charges include refuse fees which have been pegged at $598 for those in the high-density areas and $897 for those in the low and medium density areas while sewer fees has been pegged at $172. — @DubeMatutu.