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Residents challenge BCC over 'unreasonable' bills

by Staff reporter
30 Jul 2022 at 19:08hrs | Views
BULAWAYO residents have challenged the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) over astronomical bills, but city fathers said they are not to blame because inflation has pushed up the cost of everything.

The residents lodged their complaints during a meeting organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association on Thursday to discuss the state of service delivery in the city.

BPRA secretary for administration Thembelani Dube, said the residents were forced to fork out more despite falling service delivery.

"Residents have been getting monthly bills as high as $400 000 based on estimates and these astronomical charges have been used as a scapegoat by BCC to attach people's properties over unpaid bills," Dube said.

"BCC has been wantonly hiking rates and tariffs, but is failing to provide the matching services that these rates are supposed to fund.

"In the context of rising rates, it is clear that residents are going to be forced to pay more than they can afford which violates economic principles which recommend that utility bills should not cost more than 6% of one's earnings for them to be considered affordable."

Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni, however, said the local authority was not to blame, citing inflation which shot to 256.9% for July in figures released by the Zimbabwe National Statistic Agency (ZimStat).

"We are aware of the plight of the residents and the ever depreciating macro-economic environment that the residents and businesses are operating under. The prevailing economic environment has made us enemies of our residents," Mguni said.

"It is true that the rates and taxes which are informed by tariff adjustments arising from inflation are outside the reach of many. The business of a local authority is like that of a cooperative where we all have to pull resources together as a partnership to finance its operations." He dismissed claims that the city council was attaching properties belonging to residents over outstanding bills.

"We have never, and will not attach anyone's house or immovable property. What we will do is to apply the credit policy in the best way possible so that we recover the debts owed to the city by various debtors; industry and government included," Mguni said.

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe