Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has continued with their mass water disconnection of unpaid domestic bills in Maun ignoring a request by the Maun East Member of Parliament, Goretetse Kekgonegile for the exercise to be postponed.
Kekgonegile had prior the exercise engaged with Land Management, Water and Sanitation Service Minister, Kefentse Mzwinila pleading with him to order WUC to postponed the exercise at least until June. Kekgonegile argued that Maun people are currently under a huge stressful water shortage situation so they cannot afford to pay WUC water bills and buy water for domestic use at the same time. In a follow-up interview Kekgonegile said he is surprised and disappointed that the corporation has continued with the disconnection even after the Minister had agreed and assured him that he will talk with WUC for them to postpone the disconnection.
The Maun WUC Water Superintendent Molaodi Dikgang has however indicated that they have not yet received any official communication from their superiors concerning Kekgonegile’s plea hence they are continuing with the exercise. “Whilst the decision has not been taken concerning his request we will continue executing what we have been tasked to do,” Dikgang told this publication on the sideline of the Maun Sub Council Meeting. The corporation last week Monday started going after their defaulters in Maun shutting down their household taps.
According to Dikgang the exercise is a nation-wide initiative which intends to reduce unpaid bills.WUC Executive has ordered for all water bills to be paid immediately, or for debtors to make reasonable plans to settle their bills. The current debt owed to the corporation country wide stands at P882 million. In Maun alone the debt is around P37 million. The bulk of the Maun arrears is that of domestic use standing at P21 millions followed by government owing 8.6 million then businesses owing P4.8 million and least is council which owes 2.1 million Pula. From government institutions Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital is said to be owing the highest amount.
Dikgang says they are currently focusing on disconnecting domestic users because it is one which has the highest bill as compared to others. When quizzed why are they not also disconnecting other users such as government institutions which also has a high bill Dikgang said those are dealt with at a ministerial level.
The exercise has since infuriated councilors in the Maun Administrative Authority who are failing to make sense of how the corporation is disconnecting taps though Maun has been subjected to prolonged shortage of water supply. “I am wondering which water are they disconnecting since our taps have long gone dry,” said one of the councilors, Botshelobokae Ramasu of Moeti ward. The councilors called on WUC to rather focus on making sure that Maun community has access to portable water before they can think of disconnection.
Dikgang has however disputed that Maun has been experiencing total water shortage which people can point as a reason why they are not paying their bills. “water supply problems in Maun only started in April last year but even after April there was some areas which had water so we cannot say we don’t pay bills because there was no water at all,” he argued.
Meanwhile WUC has also come under fire as councilors are questioning the sudden improved water supply in Maun right at the time when a high delegation of Zimbabwe and Botswana are in the village for the 2nd Session of the Bi-National Commission between the two countries. President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Emmerson Mnangagwa are also scheduled to attend the commission on Friday. The councilors suspects that the corporation has rushed to improve the water situation in Maun only to please their superiors caring less about the Maun community.
But WUC has rubbished the accusations explaining that it is only a coincidence that the water supply has improved by 25% at the time when President Masisi is scheduled for Maun. Dikgang explained that the president is coming at a time when they are trialing their long planned project to improve water supply in Maun. “We spoke about this in December last year and I indicated that the first trial will be around end of February this year and this is where we are,” he cleared.
“We respect the presence of our president but we cannot act only because he is around, we act because the is a problem that needs to be resolved,” Dikgang stressed.
The project entails equipping additional boreholes and also converting from all diesel driven engine boreholes to submersible pumps. WUC says Maun water supply deficit has since been reduced from 6348 m3/day to 4240m3/day.
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