Bulawayo residents protest against prepaid water meters
By Staff Reporter
OVER 500 Bulawayo residents Friday staged a protest march against the city council’s decision to install prepaid water meters in the high density suburb of Cowdray Park.
The local authority plans to roll out prepaid meters in the city, starting with a pilot run in Cowdray Park’s Hlalani Kuhle area.
In October, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate instructed local authorities to introduce prepaid water meters in their respective cities and towns to increase revenue collection, despite objections from residents and civic society organisations.
The marched started off at Egodini commuter bus terminus and ended at the Large City Hall, which houses the local authority’s administration offices.
The marchers led by leaders of various civic society organisations had planned to hand over a petition to the mayor, Councillor Martin Moyo but were blocked by council security details who locked the gates leading to the offices.
The civic society bosses addressed the gathering outside the Large City Hall, urging council to reverse its decision to install prepaid water meters.
“Council is busy buying luxurious cars using our money. We will not allow you to install prepaid water and sell water to us. If Moyo and Banda (Mayor and deputy mayor) want to install these prepaid water meters, they should do so at their own houses.
“Water is life and should not be sold. If the residents reject this proposal, there is nothing you can do about it,” said an official, representing an organisation called Nyanda.
Marvelous Khumalo, the chairperson of the Chitungwiza Residents Trust said the whole of Zimbabwe should reject this proposal.
“Bulawayo has spoken against prepaid water meters, the same will happen in Harare and Chitungwiza. We have sent our message to councillors, the mayor, all political parties, the cabinet, to parliament and even President Mugabe.
“If they want to install these prepaid water meters they should start at the state house,” said Khumalo.
In a press statement defending its proposal to install prepaid water meters, the local authority’s Senior Public Relations Officer, Nesisa Mpofu, said they chose to start with Cowdray Park because the area did not have meters in individual households.
“The City of Bulawayo then realised the risk of people living without water and ablution services and installed communal tapes for domestic purposes only. There are 9 communal stand pipes supplying approximately 10 294 stands. This area is supplied with unmetered water.
“It is this light that the City of Bulawayo proposed to pilot the prepaid metering system for the communal stand pipes noting the success of prepaid water meters in some areas and also benefits it awards the residents and the city on the management of water,” said Mpofu.
She added that prepaid water meters will encourage water conservation and will enhance water demand management.
The organisers of the march have vowed that they will continue demonstrating if the council does not heed to its calls.