By Daniel Nemukuyu
Harare City Council has failed to pay for its controversial and highly-criticised BIQ billing system, prompting Quill Associates, the South African system developer, to terminate its services.
Despite heavy criticism on the BIQ system for glaring loopholes, the system owners this year reportedly hiked the fees from US$35 000 annually to US$75 000.
The system was disconnected close to a month ago and ratepayers are up in arms over the blackout, which has denied them access to information regarding their accounts. Receipting is being done offline and no updates on payments are being done.
Rates clearance certificates for property transfers are not being processed.
The disconnection of the BIQ system has also denied property owners general information on the status of their accounts. City of Harare has confirmed on its Facebook page that there is a problem with the billing system.
“We would like to advise our valued customers that we are currently experiencing challenges with our billing system.
“Our technical team is resolving the issue. We will soon be able to dispense the monthly bill statements.
“All other operations are going on smoothly. We regret any inconveniences caused during this period,” reads the post.
Investigations by The Herald revealed that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) raised issues with the fee hike from US$35 000 to $75 000.
The central bank is said to have asked for justification of the increase.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) spokesperson Mr Precious Shumba expressed concern over the disturbance.
Mr Shumba said the secrecy in which the BIQ issue was being managed smacks of some bigger scandal pitting council officials. The Herald