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Mutare City Close to Solving Water Crisis

MUTARE– City management confirms delivery of the last batch of high pressure pipes needed to address legacy water problems, despite requiring substantial forex funds to complete the Dangamvura water project.

City of Mutare said the recent delivery, which arrived last week, was the last batch of the consignment of water pipes for the Christmas Pass- Dangamvura reservoir water transmission line, procured through the African Development Bank.

However the AFDB- ZIMFUND administered project still needs at least US$450 000 to complete at a time when the local municipality is billing in local currency, leaving it in a lock jam on how to proceed.

In an official communique on this development Council says it ‘is already mobilizing additional financial resources to the sum of US$450 000 which is required to procure other requisite material and to carry out the construction work.’

Council has already indicated that it is facing a US dollar fix in its procurement, as service providers are charging in the green back while the city is billing in the local currency which is devaluing on the trot.

Mutare Mayor Councilor Blessing Tandi recently made an appeal for government to provide a special dispensation for councils and local authorities to participate in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) currency auctions.

Tandi said the city is facing viability challenges emanating from depressed collections, which dipped to as allows as 10% of average collections, as he pleaded for participation of municipalities in the forex auctions.

“We want government to allow us in the forex auction but the fifty thousand is too much for us as a local authority we won’t be able to raise that amount at once but if it was in batches we can be able.

“The minimum that is needed in terms of bidding we cannot be able to afford that as a local authority, so we will end up applying for the forex from the bank.

“The consultations that we held last week gave us a green light to charge in US dollars, so we are looking at which billable that can be charged in foreign currency,” said Tandi.

Meanwhile the local authority says it is also seeking government consent to charge in forex after ratepayers gave council a green light to charge in US dollars during public consultations for the 2021 budget.

It has also extended a rates promotion, which triggered a significant increase of revenue collections according to Finance Director, Blessing Chafesuka, from thirty percent of billing to over sixty percent.

This promotion greatly improved council’s capacity to meet service delivery needs, concurs the Mayor.

He says due to these positive developments the water supply problems should be put to rest by December, barring an unexpected delays in delivery of the remaining materials.

“Good news is coming in to Dangamvura residents on the issue of water supply. We are determined to retire the perennial water supply challenges in Dangamvura.

“The water pipes to upgrade our water conveyance infrastructure has been procured, we had been anticipating delivery of the pipes in April but due to COVID travel restrictions it has been delayed, but now we are almost there.

“Although these delays have been there delays are not denials and our target is that by December we should be raining water supply in Dangamvura,” said Tandi.

However Finance Director, Chafesuka said despite the increased revenue collections, owing to the rates promotion, revenue inflows were still not sufficient to drive optimum service delivery.

He said even the completion of the water pipeline requires the council to innovate ways to raise the remaining funding needed to complete the project.

“Our collections were averaging between thirty to thirty five percent (30-35%) of billing and that was no sustainable in terms of providing services. So when this proposal was put before council it was approved.

“It (promotion) improved our revenue collection significantly, for 2019 our collection improved from the average of thirty to thirty five and went up to around sixty percent on average, of the monthly billing,” said Chafesuka.

“We still need to raise the remainder of about four hundred US dollars for us to procure additional materials for the pipeline.”

 

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