There are mixed feelings among residents of Katima Mulilo over the new prepaid water system, which is being installed at the town. The residents are particularly on tenterhooks over the N$2,500 that council wants them to fork out for the new water meters.
Over the years, residents were unhappy with how the water reading system was being implemented. They accused water meter readers of falsifying the readings and pocketing the difference.
These complaints necessitated the implementation of a prepaid water system, which was initially mooted in 2013 and was only realised last year when the town council signed a public-private partnership with ABC Investment to install prepaid water meters.
During the launch of the system last Friday, Katima Mulilo CEO, Raphael Liswaniso, explained that the residents would have to contribute N$2,500 in three months instalments towards the water meters because the council did not have enough funds to install water meters for free.
“These prepaid water meters were to be paid at N$3,100, but we negotiated for a price-cut of N$600 and he gave us N$2,500. We then negotiated further that our people would not be able to pay cash. In the end, we convinced the investor and he agreed to be paid in three months instalments,” said Liswaniso.
However, Katima residents are not happy that they have to pay N$2,500 for the water meters, as, according to them, it is simply too much. They further say they are being forced to pay the first instalment of N$833 before they are given a card for the prepaid meter.
“Currently, we don’t have water at the house because I don’t have the N$833 to go and buy the card. When they came to install the water meter, they only put two units, which only lasted for 24 hours,” said a resident of Ngweze Location where the prepaid water meters have already been installed.
Residents are also asking the town council why the water meter system is expensive, as both those who have prepaid water meters and those who have conventional water meters previously paid N$450. “The water meters are the property of the town council, so why should they charge residents N$2,500? Not everyone is going to afford it because we have people who are not working who stay in suburbs like Choto,” said another Katima resident, Royd Likando.
Likando said although the idea is good, not everyone was consulted.
“They never called mass meetings to explain to the people. It was only the committee members, who attended the meetings,” he said.
Liswaniso, however, said everyone was consulted, adding that: “Our intention was to put prepaid meters only to those who are owing us and cut their water if they don’t pay. But then we felt that it is good that we have to put this all over town because even the community is not happy with how we charge them on the conventional meters.
“The information [sharing] started last year when we had meetings with the suburb committees – chairpersons were there and the communities were invited to these meetings,” stressed Liswaniso.