Disconnected residents charged for water consumption

Harare, 21 September 2017

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) has noted with concern that several Harare residents who had their water disconnected years back continue to be charged for water consumption.

On September 19, 2017 CHRA held a meeting with affected residents from Highfield who highlighted that their water meters were removed by Harare City Council employees yet they continue to receive monthly bills for water consumption.

“We had our water supplies disconnected about two years ago and the council workers also removed the water meter. By then, our water bill was around $900 and now it has gone up to almost $2 000 because every month, we are receiving a bill for water consumption yet there is not even a water meter at our house. We wonder where council is getting all these figures,” said a resident.

The unfortunate development in Highfield, which is reflective of the situation in most Harare suburbs, is clear indication that council has been using estimates to charge residents and in the process, robbing residents of their hard earned cash.

To substantiate the above claim, another Highfield resident who had his water disconnected last year said he was shocked to see council workers coming to his house last month and threatening him with water disconnections.

The residents of Highfield also complained about extortion by corrupt council employees.

“Some of them usually come and threaten you with water disconnections if you do not give them kickbacks. Actually, the council employees have found an avenue for making money,” said another resident.

CHRA is on record urging residents to resist corruption and report all corrupt council employees to relevant authorities.

This has been substantiated by council officials during various community meetings held by CHRA in several suburbs of Harare.

During the Highfield meeting, residents complained over the process leading to water disconnections saying the Harare City Council was disconnecting them without prior notice as per the legal procedure.

In light of the challenges, CHRA has approached human rights lawyers to ensure that residents’ constitutional rights to water and administrative justice are respected.

CHRA also contends that most of the amounts the residents are reported to owe the Harare City Council are largely contested as they are based on estimates.

This therefore justifies the need for a debt audit that would culminate in debt justice.

CHRA is also questioning the logic behind the removal of water meters in the event that residents are disconnected from water supplies.

We are further appalled by the fact that some of the residents who had their water disconnected years back continue to receive threats from Wellcash Debt Collectors who have been on a rampage threatening and extorting Harare residents.

CHRA contends that Wellcash Debt Collectors’ operations are illegal and amount to extortion and we will intensify efforts to urge residents to resist the debt collectors.

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