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BULAWAYO residents on Friday sent the strongest message yet that they are against the proposed decision by the city council to install prepaid water meters.
The decision has since received government backing, with all municipalities ordered to install pre-paid water meters as a means of boosting their coffers which have taken a battering due to the country’s economic meltdown.
About 2,500 residents marched from the City Hall car park, a stone’s throw away from the mayor Martin Moyo’s office to Stanley Square in Makokoba where various speakers addressed the swelling crowds.
The local authority has however, remained resolute in its decision to install water meters, arguing that the move would effectively manage water use in the city.
The seemingly controversial move is expected to start with a pilot project in Cowdray Park with the installation of about 1500 prepaid water meters.
Delivering his solidarity message at the gathering, Marvellous Khumalo who was representing the Chitungwiza Residents Trust lamented the council’s move saying there were some councillors pushing for the project to enrich themselves.
“Government promised residents when they were installing prepaid electricity meters that it will ease power shortages.
“The situation is now even worse than before because we go for many days without electricity. The same thing will happen if we allow them to install prepaid water meters.
“There are some officials in council who are pushing for this project because they received tenders to supply prepaid water meter gadgets,” Khumalo said.
A recent report by the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) Matabeleland Chapter claimed that a senior council official was behind the project.
“Our investigations show that senior council officials, Eng. Simela Dube, made numerous attempts at soliciting support from various stakeholders, going as far as approaching one of the major estate agents in the city with representatives from a South African company who claimed they have the capacity to roll out the prepaid system.
“Despite the numerous concerns raised from stakeholders about the roll-out of the system on a mandatory basis and other issues, council has continued to blatantly and adamantly support it,” said the AAG’s principal officer Silani Mtshiya in the report.