By Delicious Mathuthu
Gweru residents recently staged a flash demonstration against Gweru City Council’s hiked bills and continued poor service delivery at the Mkoba 6 administration offices.
About 30 to 40 residents gathered at the Mkoba 6 high density suburb administration offices and summoned one of the senior administrators demanding answers on why they were receiving outrageous bills yet services were not being adequately provided.
After failing to get answers from the official, who said he had not been authorized to talk to them, the residents broke into song, ‘Zvema dhisinyongoro taramba’, denouncing his action.
Top on their grievances raised was the hiking of tariffs through the rebasing system, water meter estimates, property seizures and perennial water shortages.
The residents had also prepared placards some of which read ‘Stop Estimating Our Bills’, ‘Tariff Rebasing Is Killing Us’, ‘Stop Property Attachments’, ‘We demand Water’ and ‘Stop Taking Us For Granted’.
The demonstration was organised by members of Gweru Residents and Rate Payers Association (GRRA) following a service delivery review meeting that was held at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) where several challenges were raised against the local authority.
Speaking after the flash demo, GRRA Executive Director Cornilia Selipiwe said residents had come to seek clarity on the billing system in light of poor services.
“Residents were here to seek clarity on how they are being billed because as you understand there is a water disconnection blitz that is underway but residents are saying yes they are being disconnected but the bills still come way too high.
“So they were asking for an explanation from the person in charge here (Mkoba 6 administration offices) but the person in charge saw the number of people who had gathered and did not respond to their questions, I dont know whether it was fear.
“So after failing to get answers they started singing showing their disappointment but the intention was to come and seek explanation on the water disconnections which is really not there, yet the bills come too high,” he said.
Gweru City Council recently hiked its tariffs in the name of rebasing using the United States dollar interbank rate which saw bills going up as much as three times in the local currency, which left many residents fuming.
One resident from Mkoba 3, who however asked not to be named, said his bill jumped from Z$3,500 in July to Z$15,000 in August and Z$18,000 in September.
Another bone of contention are water meter estimates where residents with non-functional meters are being charged between 20 000 and 30 000 liters of water per month yet water is supplied only 6-8 days each month.
They said the local authority has also embarked on property seizures for defaulting residents in an effort to recover money that it is owed.
Gweru City Council Public Relations Officer, Vimbai Chingwaramusee, advised residents to pay their bills monthly and if they have any challenges or queries they should visit their offices.
“We advise residents and ratepayers to pay their bills on a monthly basis, if they face any challenge they should communicate and make payment plans,” she said.