By Helen Kadirire
Harare City Council (HCC) plans to install 50 000 prepaid water meters in areas that receive uninterrupted water supply.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said all modalities for the installation had been finalised.
“All the necessary approvals are now available and implementation modalities are being finalised. The targeted areas include Mbare, Sunningdale and other areas that receive water daily,” he said.
According to Harare’s 2018 budget, prepaid water meter tariffs will be charged at $1, 20 for high density suburbs and $1,50 for low density suburbs.
The move comes as pressure groups have been arguing that Harare is not yet ready to install the meters considering that it does not provide a constant supply of water to the residents.
Combined Harare Residents Association (Chra) however, argues that there is no demand for prepaid meters in the city as the economic conditions in Zimbabwe were not conducive for their introduction.
Chra said introducing prepaid meters was tantamount to privatisation of water which could in the long-run undermine public health.
“At the moment some people are struggling to even buy prepaid electricity and when that is introduced for water it will mean that people will also not have access to the liquid. Statements by residents are in sharp contrast to what council is saying about smart meters. Even Member of Parliament for Dzivarasekwa Omega Hungwe told legislators that government should desist from installing prepaid meters as they go against peoples’ constitutional right to water,” Chra said.
German firm GIZ released a report in 2015 titled “Assessment and Opportunities of Prepaid Metering Systems in Zimbabwean Municipalities” which showed that Zimbabwe’s local authorities were not yet ready to implement smart meters on a wide scale.
The World Bank also warned that prepaid water meters may not be the solution to solve financial woes of local authorities as it would take a long time to recover the costs of the meters.
Conventional meters cost between $30 and $50 while prepaid meters will set back the city between $150 and $210 for a single unit. Daily News