Billing system, state of the environment in Masvingo

Moses Ziyambi

On Friday, March 24, City of Masvingo convened a stakeholder engagement interface on billing system and environmental issues at the request of the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (Murra).

Here are some of the issues that came out during presentations as well as the question and answer sessions:

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City of Masvingo finance director Dunster Jori (pictured) reveals service charges: US$1.30 per kilolitre of water for the first 18 kilolitres after which the charge rises to $1.40. Refuse collection is charged at $9.48, sewer $5.67. The standard charge for council services per month is $25.66.

If water gets disconnected from a household for non-payment of bills, it would take the clearing of arrears and the payment of a reconnection fee of $10 for supplies to be restored. “Only Council is allowed to reconnect water when arrears are cleared. Reconnecting yourself is illegal.”

“Some residents think estimate charges are cheaper so they prefer to keep nonfunctional metres but they are wrong.”

On requests for houses owned by the elderly and people with disabilities to be charged less, Jori said council received many such proposals before. However, there is no concrete consensus on who would be charge more to fill the gap. “If we subsidise a certain section of residents, it would mean others have to be levied more to cover the gap. There is no consensus yet as to who would pay for such subsidies.”

“The idea of prepaid parking and clamping of vehicles haisi nyaya yekutsvaga mari but to decongest the CBD and ensure order.” Proceeds from prepaid parking disks and towing are used to maintain roads and the service itself. Charges are $1 per hour of parking, $160 for a monthly parking disc or to hire a bay in front of your business. Clamping fee is $50 and towing fee is $100.

Murra member, Thomas Mbetu asks Jori to clarify rumours that council planned to hire a private company from Harare to manage the parking affairs. Jori responded saying, “Council has engaged a parking management company City Parking but the idea is not yet a done deal. We are convinced that engaging a private company would bring greater efficiency to the parking system.”

Parking marshals must always be at visible spots in the parking lots so that that clients are not inconvenienced.

Thomas Mbetu further asks why council must hire a private company to manage parking and export jobs to Harare rather than form its own company to do the job. “Council could form its own company and save local jobs, and possibly do it at a lower cost.”  But Jori responded that it would be more expensive to do that as council would need to hire such things as software at very expensive rate.

In his presentation, City of Masvingo deputy engineer Kudzaishe Mbetu says Masvingo can produce 30 megalitres of water if electricity is provided for 24 hours at Bushmead Waterworks. However, only seven hours supply of electricity is being provided; meaning an average eight megalitres of water is being produced per day.

On progress at the Mucheke Trunk Sewer project, Kudzaishe Mbetu says 5.5km of piping had been laid, and the target is to complete the remaining 1.2km this year (2023). Council’s two sewer pump stations along Mucheke River are functional but are often not running due to load shedding, meaning a lot of untreated sewage finds its way into the river every day.

On water supplies to the land baron suburb of Victoria Ranch, Kudzaishe Mbetu said no supplies were currently available for the area because the system is severely strained by the load shedding.

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