BY SILAS NKALA
LUPANE residents are up in arms with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) for installing prepaid water meters without consulting them.
A recent notice by Zinwa said the water authority was targeting to install at least one-third of prepaid meters in the Matabeleland North capital.
Lupane Residents and Ratepayers Development Trust (LRRDT) education and communications officer Mfundo Sibanda said residents and businesses were mobilising to resist the move.
“Zinwa is installing prepaid meters without consultation. They have actually been installed in some areas. We want them to stop this immediately. We actually heard that they have since started and now we are mobilising residents to challenge the move,” Sibanda said.
Residents, that spoke to Southern Eye said installation of prepaid meters would frustrate development in the town.
Rural Community Empowerment Trust co-ordinator Vumani Ndlovu, who is also a resident of Lupane centre, said: “Residents were not consulted. It is against the spirit of inclusivity in decision-making processes. Zinwa should have consulted the residents first to hear their opinions regarding this.”
Ndlovu said the introduction of prepaid meters would affected access to water for Lupane residents and fuelled health hazards.
Zinwa spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga confirmed that the water authority was installing pre-paid water meters in Lupane.
“Zinwa is currently installing prepaid water meters for various clients as per earlier pronouncements by the authority and following successful piloting in Mvurwi and Chivhu since 2019. The installations that are ongoing, however, are a precursor to the full-scale roll-out of the prepaid water meters expected in the coming few months.
“Considering the cost of conventional meters, it would not be prudent or sensitive for new clients to be asked to buy the meters when they will get replaced very soon, hence a deliberate position to have prepaid meters installed for new clients. Proper and well-co-ordinated consultations and awareness campaigns will precede the full-scale roll-out of prepaid water meters,” Munyonga said.
She said a total of 35 000 meters were expected to be installed countrywide during the first phase.
Munyonga said companies had been awarded a tender to supply the meters at a cost of $689, 9 million.
“Lupane gets its water from the 40 million cubic metre Bubi-Lupane Dam, which is currently 96,3% full. While proper awareness campaigns will be held, residents are advised to embrace prepaid water meters which are being introduced to give them enhanced control of their bills and water consumption patterns,” she said.