City of Harare is proceeding with a plan to install pre-paid water meters in spite of increasing resistance from residents. The initial project will see the installation of 2,000 pre-paid water meters in Sunningdale, Kambuzuma, Greendale, Bluffhill, and the Avenues.
Many Hararians are not in favour of the meters, and after a Council announcement that a pilot project would soon begin, the Harare Residents’ Trust (HRT) handed over a petition to Acting Mayor Christopher Mbanga to that effect.
The petition states that residents are against the installation of pre-paid water meters as they restrict people’s access to clean water based on their socio-economic status.
“Currently, residents deprived of Municipal water are relying on shallow wells where they consume water from unprotected water points and community boreholes and privately owned boreholes. In some cases, residents have been buying water to fill in the gap left by the government when it fails to provide water to the citizenry. It is women and children who have experienced these hardships the most, and the introduction of prepaid water meters will worsen the situation.” reads part of the petition.
The petition also noted that there is erratic water supply to most high density suburbs and that the northern and eastern suburbs of the city are the worst affected, often receiving no water for weeks on end. It asserts that prepaid water meters will not guarantee a sufficient potable water supply.
“If you cannot pay upfront, you are unable to access water. This means that if… [an] emergency happens like a fire, a toilet blockage or an accident resulting in the death of people, [there will be increased] water consumption, depriving the poor, affected families [of the] opportunity to access water as a human need. Emergencies usually occur when they are least expected, and they are accompanied by cash constraints,” added the petition.
Chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) Simbarashe Moyo told Harare News that his organisation was going also going to speak out against the meters, with a few campaigns in the pipeline.
Whatever happens however, council is determined to continue with the rollout, with council policymakers arguing that the benefits of the meters far outweigh the costs and effects to council and residents alike.
The City’s acting monitoring and evaluation manager Dorothy Mavolwane confirmed that Council received the HRT petition, but clarified the project was based on a resolution made by a full council meeting.
“After mooting the idea to run a pilot project, we went out to consult with residents in the affected areas. We will go back to consult residents after finishing the pilot project which will run for about six months so that we come out with the meter that is most suitable for Harare,” said Mavolwane.
Mavolwane added that Council has shortlisted five companies (names withheld) to provide different meters for the pilot project, “The five companies were picked through a tender that was run last year.”
Image: A Harare resident inspects her newly installed pre-paid water meter.