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Affluent suburb residents not paying bills

by Staff reporter
18 Mar 2021 at 05:42hrs | Views
BUSINESS and residents living in affluent suburbs like Burnside and Hillside are among those who have accumulated the highest unpaid bills to the Bulawayo City Council.

The city is owed more than $800 million by residents and business, and has started water disconnections to force defaulters to pay up. Out of the 29 wards, Ward 1 which covers the city's centre has the highest debt as it owes $130 million.

From the total, $18 million is domestic or residential debt and $112 million is owed by institutions or businesses. Ward 6 that encompasses Bellevue, Newton West, Barham Green, Montrose, West Sommerton, Southwold, Donnington, Belmont and Sidojiwe Hostel has the second highest debt of $84 million, with a domestic debt of about $10 million.

Ward 7 that covers Makokoba, Thorngrove Industries, Thorngrove, Westgate, Steeldale and Westondale comes third in the city's debt rankings as it owes $73 million with the domestic debt amounting to $11 million.

Ward 4, which includes Burnside, Riverside, Buena Vista, Waterford, Fortunes Gate, Selborne Park Phases 1 and 2, owes $61 million and has the highest domestic debt citywide of $38 million.

Lobengula's Ward 14 owes the council the least amount of $7 million with $6 million being the residential debt and other areas with low debts are Nkulumane's Ward 23 which owes council $8 million with at least $7 million being a domestic debt while Ward 15 which covers Old Luveve and New Luveve owes the municipality nearly $10 million and $7 million is domestic debt. Other wards owe council between $10 million and $26 million.

In a statement yesterday, Bulawayo town clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the debts are for the period ending December 31, 2020. He said domestic debtors owed council $391 million and institutions owed the authority $416 million dollars. Bulawayo deputy mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube said failure to pay bills was impacting on the council's ability to provide service delivery.

"This picture shows how bad our financial status is as a city. It also reflects to the economy of the local authority. It shows that we are not good ratepayers as residents. Therefore, we encourage our residents to pay so that the council can deliver services.

"Service delivery is like someone at a shop, when you pick something you have to pay for it. Services come at an expense and we encourage residents to pay their bills. And as council we are now disconnecting water supplies as a way of recovering what is owed to council," said Cllr Mlandu. He encouraged residents to take advantage of the city's payment plan to clear their debts.

"We encourage residents to visit revenue offices that are dotted around the city. They should make a payment plan that will see council recovering its money and residents receiving services. The payment plan is also going to be used for follow-up purposes," he said.

Some residents have confirmed receiving water disconnection notices from council. One of the residents said he was last week issued with a week's notice to service his debt of $3 000 or risk having water supplies disconnected.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association coordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said failure to pay bills could be partially a result of strict water shedding exercise that was being implemented up to the end of January as well as the economic situation.

"Perhaps it has been caused by unavailability of water. I think since we have started receiving water constantly we will see some improvements. Also residents are facing serious financial challenges and living from hand to mouth. A lot of them are unemployed and although this is not an excuse for nonpayment of rates it is the reality on the ground," said Mr Ndlovu.

Source - chronicle