Mutare cuts tariffs after outcry

Source: Mutare cuts tariffs after outcry | The Herald

Mutare cuts tariffs after outcry

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke

Manicaland Bureau

Mutare City Council has reduced water tariffs, clinic fees and council accommodation following an outcry from ratepayers after a hike in January.

The increase was implemented following the approval of the 2021 budget by the Ministry of Local Government and Public works.

However, ratepayers felt that in coming up with the budget, council had not considered their plight in the wake of ongoing lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the new budget, council effected an average 400 percent increase across the board, resulting in some households getting bills as high $3 000 from about $600 per month.

Mutare mayor Councillor Blessing Tandi said the bands for the stepped up water billing system that had been introduced had been widened as it was the main reason behind the marginally high bills.

“We had consultation meetings with stakeholders and we realised that the budget we had crafted was ideal for the City of Mutare to offer a decent service at affordable prices to the communities,” he said.

“But there was an outcry when we implemented it and we saw it fit to revisit our budget and address the issues that had been brought forward by stakeholders.”

A special council meeting held on Monday, decided that the bands were too close and they were adjusted.

As a result, residents in the high density suburbs will get the first three cubic metres for free and council will begin charging $31, 98 per cubic metre on the 3-26 cubic metre band. The 26-50 cubic metre band will be charged at $36,90 and 50 cubic metres and above will cost $36,90.

The ideal consumption for high density is around 26 cubic metres.

Clinic fees have also been reduced from US$3 for children and US$5 for adults to US$2 for children in the first quarter and US$3 for adults. 

The fees will be reviewed in the second quarter to US$3 and US$4 for adults and children respectively and US$5 for adults in the fourth quarter.

Rentals for council accommodation has also been cut by 50 percent and this will see some tenants in Sakubva paying about $115 per month.

Acting town clerk, Dr Anthony Mutara said the new tariffs would only allow council to recover cost of service.

He said the stepped up water tariffs were necessary to curb the abuse of water by water barons who were selling the commodity to settlements that are not yet receiving it from council.

“We had instances where people would use up to 750 cubic metres in a household, which is way beyond the 26 that a regular household can use if there is no fault in their line. Since the water was cheap, they could afford to pay for it but now with this new tariffs, they will have to pay for the water,” he said.

He said even with the reduced water tariff, Mutare still had the cheapest water in the country compared to other local authorities.

Mutare City Council is owed over $400 million by ratepayers, a situation which the local authority has blamed for the decline in service delivery.