The Zimbabwean government has secured US$144 million from China’s Import and Export Bank to install pre-paid water meters in the capital in a bid to end disputes between the Harare City Council and residents over water bills.
Water Resources and Development Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said the City Council will launch a pilot project in June involving 1,000 households in Harare’s Avenues district area to determine the viability of the approach.
The Harare Residents Trust and the Harare City Council are currently embroiled in a court case in which residents are challenging the council’s billing system, which is based on estimates rather than metered consumption.
According to the state-controlled Herald daily newspaper, some of the Chines funds will be used to boost production in the Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward water treatment plants and to upgrade the Firle and Crowborough sewage plants.
Many Harare residents have refused to pay huge water bills leading the council to shut off water to about 3,000 households, mostly in Kuwadzana Extension. The City Council says most meters are old and hamper its efforts to take accurate readings.
Nkomo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the pilot project will be the first phase of a broader campaign across the country to address billing problems.