BY STEPHEN CHADENGA
Gweru City Council will from Monday start the process of disconnecting water to defaulting ratepayers.
In a statement yesterday, the local authority said it could only offer adequate services if residents settle their bills.
“As from Monday, September 13 2021, the City of Gweru is going to descend heavily on those who owe council,” the municipality said.
“Pay your bills to avoid getting disconnected or legal action being taken against you.
“We encourage residents, clients and stakeholders to pay their bills. Payment of bills ensures the provision of quality services.”
But Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Development Association Trust executive director David Chikore said instead of taking ratepayers to court and imposing water disconnections, council should find ways to reduce the cost of water supply to consumers.
“We have always said there is need for council not to over-rely on electricity, but find alternative energy sources such as solar at its water treatment plants to reduce the cost of water supply to consumers,” he said.
“If water supply cost is low, council can then charge affordable tariffs to residents.
“Ratepayers are not immune to the COVID-19-induced economic challenges.”
Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association director Cornelia Selipiwe, however, said the call by council for residents to settle their bills was above board, but challenged council’s decision to take defaulters to court.
“People must understand that to get the quality services they want, they should pay their bills,” Selipiwe said.
“So we encourage residents to pay but at the same time, we don’t want our local authority to take legal action against the people because it is inhumane to do that.
“Council should also use persuasive language to encourage ratepayers to pay the little amount they can get.”
The local authority is owed over $700 million in unpaid bills.
In May, council sued at least 100 ratepayers with over $2 million outstanding bills dating back to October 2019. Council, however, suspended attaching defaulters’ property after the intervention of residents associations.