Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has staged an aggressive collections campaign to recover a staggering P1.1 billion water bill; with slight progress made as the bill has been reduced from P1.6 billion to P1.1 billion in recent months.
WUC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gaselemogwe Senai said the high water bill came as a result of the relaxed dispensation that was given to households during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic. At the time Government decreed that water should not be discontented from households as residents required water to constantly wash their hands as part of protecting themselves against Covid-19.
Senai revealed the huge water bill debt earlier this week during a press briefing by the Minister of Lands and Water Affairs Dr Kefentse Mzwinila who was giving an update on water and land matters.
According to Senai, WUC found itself owed P1.6 billion after the State of Public Emergency (SoPE) last year. Consequently, he said the corporation embarked on water disconnection from January 2022.
“The high debt was accumulated because the credit policy didn’t allow us to disconnect water for families and businesses during the period of Covid19.We cleaned the debt book for three months until December and we started disconnections. The debt now is at P1.1 billion,” he said.
Senai said from the debt, government departments owe P160 million.
Businesses, he said, their outstanding water bill for domestic is P700 million.
“Currently, we have 1500 water disconnection amounting to P470 million in value. We are still yet to disconnect water from other domestic households because of challenges we encounter such as lack of access to the yards. As a result we consider to move meters outside yards,” he added.
Senai said although there has been some money recovered from the debt, the progress is still slow in terms of revenue collection, urging households and businesses owing to pay their bills.
Immediately after the elapse of SoPE, WUC showed its intentions to recover the staggering water bill by disconnecting water supply for those who owed the corporation large unpaid water bills.
The corporation believes that cutting water supply for those who owe it compels them to pay their bills, although some still remain reluctant to do so while their water supply is disconnected.
However, Senai said he is content that the corporation will make progress in cutting water bill.
The corporation realised a significant decline in its financial performance for the year ended March 2021 with losses amounting to P166 million from P49.9 million in March 2020.
According to WUC, the losses that went up by 32% were underpinned by the effects of Covid19, which in particular eroded household income resulting in ability by customers to pay their water bills.
In 2021, WUC revenue from contracts with customers dropped to P1.811 billion from P1.825 billion.
The corporation’s total expenses also rose from P1.988 billion to P2.307 billion resulting in an operating loss before tariff subsidies and grants of P465.9 million.
Meanwhile, Minister Mzwinila said the government is considering treating some of the sewage water at Glen Valley sewage area to turn it into consumable water.
According to him, use of technology will be incorporated in cleaning sewage water for consumption.
“There is lot of sewage water across the country and it is time to turn it into clean water. Other countries are doing that and its boosts water supply. The Glen Valley sewage water cleaning will benefit Gaborone and other villages close to it. Water supply is in demand around Gaborone,” he added.
Furthermore, Mzwinila said there is progress on the World Bank Funded water projects locally.
He revealed that the North East water supply project has been completed supplying Tutume and other villages close to Tutume, adding that Boteti and Nata projects are also being fast tracked.
“We had hiccups on implementing the World Bank funded water projects. But now they are running and we expect the tender to be awarded this year for Boteti and Nata ones,” he said.
Mzwinila said he is pleased with the level of water supply given a number of national water projects that have been completed such as Masama Pipeline, Palapye Water Treatment, Mogojogojo bottleneck, Mahalapye Water Treatment Plant and Gumare.
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