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MASVINGO City Council which has been struggling to have government properties pay their monthly bills for years has resolved to install pre-paid water meters at the properties as a way of improving collections and stop an over ballooning debt .
The local authority said residents and institutions owe council in excess of $31million with the bulk of the debt owed by government institutions .
The council’s finance committee, at a recent meeting, said all channels to have the debt paid have been exhausted.
According to the committee, discussions are being made to start installing pre-paid meters at all police staff quarters in the city.
The committee also said the installations will later be rolled out to other big debtors before spreading to residential areas.
“Report of the city treasurer said a total $31 254 150. 27 was owed and it was reported that the bulk of the money related to government properties.
“Discussions will be made with Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to install water meters at individual staff houses at police camps as a way of improving collections,” reads part of the minutes.
Resident watchdogs have been calling on the city fathers to put pressure on government departments to honour their debts as they were crippling service delivery in the country’s oldest urban settlement.
Masvingo Residents and Rate payers Association (MURRA) communications officer Godfrey Mtimba welcomed the move and said the local authority should not scrap the already exorbitant debt.
He said reports indicate that government departments now owe the local authority nearly $25million, a figure which he said would go a long way in improving service delivery in the city.
“The prepaid initiative is welcome but it should not translate to the local authority doing away with the debts that government institutions owe.
“Everyone receiving a service from council should pay up not to have a situation where people or institutions benefit at the expense of other rate payers,” he said. source-newzimbabwe
photo-urbanafrica-A water meter installed by council in the suburb of Cowdray Park