$4 per month for water

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HARARE – Chitungwiza residents could soon pay as little as $4 a month for water if pre-paid meters are successfully installed, a research company has said.

Smart meters are expected to be installed at some 3 000 houses in Harare’s dormitory town under a pilot project being run by the Zimbabwe Innovative Technology (Zimit), in partnership with Chitungwiza Town Council.

According to the United Nations, each person needs at least 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.

The Chitungwiza Town Council currently charges 38 cents per kilolitre of water.

Nyikadzino Dube, Zimit director,  said “water is the cheapest product but at the moment the residents are not realising this because of excessive billing.”

Dube said a recent survey conducted by Zimit showed that about 75 percent of the water meters in the satellite town have outlived their lifespan and are thus giving incorrect reading, further burdening the residents.

“The mechanical meters that we currently have are outdated,” Dube said.

“Pre-paid meters have so many advantages. You can imagine that water only costs 38 cents for 1 000 litres. Fuel costs $1,49 a litre, a bottle of coke costs $1,20 cents a litre. A family of five can use just $4 for water a month that’s over 10 000 litres of water."

“But we are made to believe that water is expensive. We are used to expensive things. But the life of today is all prepaid. Bread you buy it, before you eat it, before you make a phone call, you put money in your phone.

“So if we can gain a culture of pre-paying for water, we will realise all these benefits because water is the cheapest product.”

Dube said the prepaying for water bills presents both the municipality and the residents with a win-win situation.

“The current billing system which takes 45 days is cumbersome and at the end of the day, there is also a burden that arises out of commercial loses, there is also a problem of physical loses all this contributing in a burden on the pocket of the residents,” he said.

If the pilot project is successful, it is likely that the Chitungwiza Town Council will invite bids for a tender to supply the gadgets.

Furthermore, water being a basic right, the local authority will need to find a way  to provide at least 20 litres free water to its residents.

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