Water tariff hike 'fair'

08 July 2019 | Local News

The Windhoek municipality's water tariffs for households that consume between 6 000 litres and 25 000 litres are based purely on recovery of cost, while households that consume more are charged on a penalty system aimed at ensuring long-term water security amidst severe water scarcity concerns.

“In actual fact, the City of Windhoek subsidises the first 6 000 litres,” Windhoek municipal spokesperson Harold Akwenye explained last week, when asked to respond to criticism from the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna), which lashed out last week against the 5% water tariff hikes announced recently for July onwards.

Users who consume between 6 000 and 25 000 litres are charged a cost recovery rate and no more, Akwenye underlined, adding that the City cannot ignore the 5% increase on the bulk water tariffs imposed by NamWater.

He said the municipality “cannot just absorb increased tariffs from its supplier, without also increasing tariffs for the provision of water. Keep in mind that the cost of chlorine and spare parts are constantly increasing and the City needs to recover the cost of providing the service to the user.”

He underlined that the City “regrets the increase in tariffs” but noted that the tariff hikes are “outside its control; there is very little that can be done to combat cost increases”.

Akwenye noted that furthermore, “the cost to provide water during the time of water being limited is more costly”.

Among the costs to provide water are the treatment, the pumping and conveying of the water and keeping the reticulation network in a fair and operable condition, which “costs money. It is therefore foreseeable that the cost to provide water to your doorstep will increase the more the cost of input parameters increase with inflation and other factors”.



Simple economics

In May, cabinet approved a 5% increase on the bulk water tariffs NamWater supplies, to reflect inflation increases. The increase raised the bulk water price from N$21.30 per cubic metres to N$22.35 per cubic metres, to become effective in July.

In line with this, the City Council at the end of June approved a 5% increase on water tariffs for residents, to reflect the NamWater increases, with the basic charge for water consumption up to 6 000 litres, increased to N$22.35.

“The basic tariff for water charged by the City of Windhoek is exactly the same as what is paid for water supplied by NamWater,” Akwenye pointed out.

This means the City subsidises the first 6 000 litres considering the additional costs associated with the distribution of water from the terminal reservoir where NamWater is stored, to all suburbs in the city.

Households consuming between 6 000 and 25 000 litres per month are charged a cost recovery rate of N$34.64 per kilolitre (1 000 litres), reflecting the 5% increase as per the Category D severe water scarcity block tariff system that came into effect in July.

Akwenye pointed out that only consumers who consume more than 25 000 litres per month, the maximum recommended monthly consumption rate in Category D, are charged more than the cost recovery rate.



Penalty system

“The municipality's objective is to provide water at the most affordable price to its residents, but also to preserve this critical resource, and hence the block tariff system, which allows for the lower water consumers to pay less and higher water consumers to be penalised,” he explained.

As per the Category D water scarcity water management system, consumers who use between 25 000 and 30 000 will be charged N$69.29 per 1 000 litres, a doubling of the cost recovery tariff of N$34.64.

Consumers, who use more than

1 000 litres of water per day, or more than 30 000 litres per month, will be charged four times the cost of recovery tariff, which is N$138.57 per 1 000 litres used.

Tucna secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha last week implored President Hage Geingob to intervene and put a stop to the 5% increase, accusing NamWater and the City of Windhoek of having no realistic justifications for the increases.

He said the annual water hikes the public are subjected to did not improve the services provided to residents.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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