Harare to hike water charges despite USAid grant

Augustine Mukaro

HARARE City Council still wants to hike its water charges by an average 4 000% despite receiving US$200 000 from the United States government through USAid for the purchase of water treatmen

t chemicals.


UNDP documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent show the money was passed to the local authority through the United Nations Development Programme office in Harare at the end of December.


“The money was administered by UNDP, who have facilitated purchase of liquid aluminum sulphate from Zimphos,” a UN humanitarian situation report for January said.


“UNDP signed a contract with Zimphos to supply City of Harare with 1 462 tonnes of chemicals commencing December 29, 2003,” the report said.

By January 5 this year council had received 1 162 tonnes of chemicals while the last consignment was delivered two weeks later.


“The grant means that council is now saving about $150 million a day which would have been drawn from the budget towards the purchase of the chemicals,” it said.


Harare now requires not less than 120 milligrams of aluminium sulphate to treat a litre of water because of high levels of pollution in its main reservoirs.


Despite the USAid grant council has proceeded to submit its $1,3 trillion budget for approval to Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo without taking the new development into consideration.


The budget would be financed by hiking of rates by an average 1 500% in all services provided by the council.


According to the budget proposal, by October this year water rates for domestic use would rise by 4 100%, fixed charges by 7 000% while water to satellite towns would go up by 8 877%.


Harare residents are demanding the suspension of the council’s 2004 budget proposals to allow the review of the figures in line with economic constraints and stakeholder inputs as well as donor intervention.


The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), the umbrella body representing the residents association in the capital want the Harare City budget for 2004 to be suspended because it was a result of an unacceptable process that did not seek comprehensive input from the residents.


Suspended mayor Elias Mudzuri has supported CHRA in its stand.

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