• Govt abolishes some water charges due to water supply failure
• WUC to suffer serious revenue decline
The new Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele has remonstrated the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) for the practise of billing standard charges to consumers which he termed exploitative and a “rip off.”
Recently, cabinet discussed the water situation following perennial water shortage complaints across the country, with WUC emerging as the subject of discussion for its tariffs which have always been controversial. Following this, charges including the P20 standard change for domestic, business and industrial customers as well as the VAT for first 0 -5000 litres for domestic use were discontinued.
Cabinet recently reviewed the tariffs, something also expected to severely drop WUC revenue when the changes effect on 1st April 2017. A source says a substitution of these changes from the around 500 000 clients will greatly affect the corporation which has not been performing well for the past few years.
Sources further say there were disagreements over whether the above charges should be abolished or reduced with some arguing for a fifty percent decrease while some, including Maele, describing the change as irrational. “It was a lot of money that was been collected from the public, the controversy emanated from the fact that even those whose taps were dysfunctional were subjected to the charge,” he told The Botswana Gazette in an interview.
Botswana’s real problem, according to experts, is not lack of water but infrastructure for which the country will need to pump in massive capital investments to rehabilitate. The corporation currently has a property plant and equipment valued at around P4.6 billion.
The World Bank has approved a loan amount of $145.5 million which is expected to help Botswana resolve her water supply challenges. “We have requested a loan from the World Bank, and we are happy and optimistic because everything is going accordingly. We can only share more details on this matter once all is said and done,” Maele told this publication briefly.
Water just like land is a issue contentious issue in the country and Maele promised to do his best to ensure that Batswana have access to water. “You see Batswana are not happy, people are agitated by this situation, despite having dams full to the brim taps are dry,” he said.
WUC has come under immense criticism over its failure to meet the national demand. In 2013, Board Chairperson Nozipho Mabe revealed that they were cognizant of the fact that it will take a lot of time and effort to rehabilitate water distribution networks and find alternative supply sources before the situation is stabilized to the satisfaction of customers.
The country ‘s leadership is also pinning their hopes on trans-boundary cooperation under the auspices of the SADC Protocol on shared watercourses as well as the Middlepits Cluster Villages Project, the Lesotho Highlands project and Chobe/Zambezi River system among many others.