Water debts put on ice

02 April 2020 | Disasters

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU



The urban and rural development ministry says water bills incurred as a result of implementing the state of emergency will be discussed later.

Local authorities that run up debts because of reconnecting water supply to all households will get a grace period until the state of emergency has been lifted.

This is according to urban and rural development minister Erastus Utoni's letter dated 27 March to the heads of regional and local authorities.



Grace period

Utoni said local authorities are expected to record all the costs incurred, which will be discussed after the state emergency has been lifted. “The water bills referred to above shall be ring-fenced in order to separate them from the normal operational water bills,” he wrote.



Rising debts

Cash-strapped towns like Rundu owe NamWater millions of dollars and have for years struggled to pay their monthly instalments.

Rundu owes the bulk water utility in the region of N$90 million.

The town was last year placed on a prepaid system, which meant that it could only consume what it had paid for.

NamWater was reluctant to suspend this arrangement for the duration of the state of emergency because the town's debt is likely to increase.

The acting Rundu CEO, Sam Nekaro, says NamWater only reconsidered its stance on Friday.

Nekaro also revealed that the monthly cost of water consumed by Rundu residents is in the region of N$4 million.

When asked how Rundu was doing in terms of reconnecting suspended water accounts, Nekaro said affected residents must visit the council offices and sign a letter acknowledging how much they owe the local authority.

“We have started reconnecting water to those households whose accounts were closed,” he said. Nekaro said the council has procured extra water meters for those who wish to be reconnected but have no functioning meters.

On the distribution of water to informal settlements, Nekaro said the council has acquired four 10 000-litre containers that are being placed in informal settlements.

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