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Prepaid water meter debate rages

24 August 2016

The debate on the introduction of smart water meters by the City of Harare for its residents is far from over.

While the project is still on its pilot phase, residents are divided over their installation.

While some residents of New Prospect, also known as Sunningdale 3, and Bluffhill have readily accepted the gadgets, others are against the idea.

Just last week, a meeting was called in Sunningdale with a view to try and conscientise residents on the smart gadgets.

Residents’ organisations perhaps speaking on behalf of some residents who are against the installation of the gadgets have continued to speak on the issue.

The Harare Residents Trust has been speaking against their introduction.

“Prepaid water meters have always been unfavourable to the citizens of Harare.

“However, the decision to install prepaid water meters has been done without consulting residents.

Citizenry participation is very important. “Prepaid water meters are not favourable to citizens due to a lot of reasons.

“To mention only a few, the way Harare Water is supplying residents with water is not pleasing at all.

“Some residents in areas like Mabelreign Sentosa area have spent years without water and nothing is being done to address this situation.

“Therefore this shows that the decision to install prepaid water meters is not reasonable. The question then is how the city council can want to install meters when there are some areas that do not receive water at all.

“Another point to note is that, there are a lot of water shutdowns that are taking place to the extent that most residents get water at night. “For instance residents in Glen View, Mufakose, Budiriro and Glen Norah receive water midnight, when most residents would be asleep. “Hence the question now is how residents can favour prepaid water meters when they already have a burden of waking up midnight to fetch water from the tap. Also will these prepaid water meters increase the availability of water when they are installed?

“All what residents want to see is water coming out of their taps not forcing them to install prepaid water metersthat will not benefit them.

“As part of the Harare Residents Trust, our view is that water is a basic need and everyone has the right to receive it.According to Charter 4, Section 77 of the Constitution, every person has the right to safe, clean and potable water,” said Hope Chikukwa from the HRT.

However, one resident of New Prospect who has benefitted from the prepaid water meters pilot project, Calister Muzenda said “this is good because we no longer waste any water, if you use the water without saving it, you can check on the meter and see how much you are wasting.

“So this system is really good because even iyo mvura irikunzi ikunetsa inenge yatova advantage, because vanhu vachadzidza kusaver mvura.

“When the meter was installed I bought water for US$10 and I’m happy with the way it is charging, I can’t complain.

“This is quite good because at least I get to pay for water that I would have used than to be billed for water that I did not consume so this system is really good, Im happy with it because unotozviona kuti aaah mvura yangu yapera,” said Mrs Muzenda.

During recent trips to New Prospect and Sunningdale, acting Harare City Town Clerk Josephine Ncube said, “I’m very happy, I’m satisfied with the progress we have made, but I’m particularly pleased with the reception of this new technology by the consumers, our customers and Im also comforted that they are also conforming all the positives that we indicated would come with the usage of prepaid meters.

In particular they are all emphasizing that we know now we are paying for the water that we are using.

They are also happy because these are smart meters, they warn them when there are leakages and we have also been able to hear from them their concerns, things that would make it easier to use the meters and we would be attending to it,” said the acting town clerk.

And while the there are pros and cons of the water system; it seems the debate will continue for long because even the intended beneficiaries, the residents; are equally divided on the matter.

Muaz Cisse

muazcisse@gmail.com

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