Victoria Falls Residents Clash With Council Workers Over Water Disconnections
Anti-riot police officers were recently deployed to the Mfelandawonye section of Mkhosana suburb in Victoria Falls after residents clashed with council workers who were disconnecting water users for non-payment of bills.
The local authority was disconnecting water at homes where the owners owed US$100 and above in unpaid water bills.
The Chronicle reported that the council workers had disconnected six houses when they were confronted by irate residents which caused them to call for backup from police.
The residents complained about high water bills when most of the time their taps were dry.
A resident who spoke to the Chronicle said water usually comes at night during the time of the month when council officials visit homes to do meter readings. Another resident said:
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Bills are way too high yet we have no water on a daily basis. We don’t know maybe they are charging us for the bowser that supplies us fortnightly.
Most of the time we go and ask for water from other areas especially the CBZ side.
So they came and we didn’t know what was happening when we suddenly realised that they were disconnecting the water. We quickly mobilised and blocked them.
They had disconnected about six houses when we noticed and our concern is that they are doing this when no water comes out of our taps and they didn’t notify us.
They told us to make payment plans and we told them to supply us with water first so that we pay for services rendered. We are not refusing to pay but we only want service.
Another resident said police officers who were deployed to the suburb did not harass people but sought to understand what was happening.
Victoria Falls mayor Councillor Somvelo Dlamini and Member of Parliament Godfrey Dube came and advised the council workers to stop the disconnections.
Vice-chairperson of Vic Falls Watchdog, which represents residents’ issues Sifiso Sibanda said:
Our understanding is that there is no water and bills are too high. We don’t understand which water they are charging for when people get water only two days a month.
While we encourage people to pay for water because it’s a service we need, council should make sure there is water.
They can’t go around disconnecting people when there is no water. This is not a new problem, it’s known but they are not bothered.
Dlamini said the concerns raised by Mfelandawonye residents were genuine.
He said he had engaged Town Clerk Ronnie Dube and advised the team to put the exercise on hold and allow people to make payment plans.
Victoria Falls City Council started a US$4 million water, sanitation and hygiene project in which two reservoirs are being constructed.
Victoria Falls, like the majority of urban settlements in Zimbabwe, is run by an opposition-dominated council and service delivery has deteriorated alarmingly over the past two decades.
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