The connection of council offices to a wide area network (WAN) is allowing for easier interaction between residents and council. 62 out of 89 offices have been switched on so far.
Council offices are being connected to a single server installed at the Rowan Martin building in the CBD. According to the mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, the program began in 2014 and is being completed in four phases.
“Phase 1 saw five main City offices going online. These are Town House, Rowan Martin, Cleveland, Remembrance Building, and Coventry offices. In Phase 2, five top revenue collecting district offices went online: Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Glen View, Budiriro, and Highfields,” said Manyenyeni.
In Phase 3 of the program, council connected the remaining district offices. Phase four will cover all remaining city offices, clinics, and hospitals.
Council spokesperson Mike Chideme explained that the connectivity of council offices means greater convenience for residents.
“All our district offices and the majority of council offices are now connected to the WAN. This means that people can now can check their bills and pay their bills online at any of our district offices without any hindrance,” said Chideme.
District offices are in each suburb for residents to pay bills, make enquiries, and lodge complaints. For years Harare residents have been frustrated by poor service at district offices and it is hoped that the new system will help to address this.
Chideme says the connection of the offices will also make work easier for council by eliminating the need to move huge volumes of paperwork around the city.
“All communication between council offices and departments is now being done online through e-mail. Residents can now also check their accounts on our website from anywhere in the world,” said Chideme.
Residents on the whole are pleased with council’s progress in adopting modern technology. Sharon Magodyo, community coordinator of the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT), says online account information availability is a welcome move.
However she added that residents will still require assistance when visiting the offices, and there was still room for improvement in the services given. “Residents are still complaining that council workers at district offices should improve their customer care services when attending to residents because residents may still need to visit council offices seeking clarification and advice from council workers,” said Magodyo.
Log in and set up your account via http://188.8.131.52:10088/biqacc/
Image: A council worker at a district office demonstrates the new online system.