GWERU City Council has reviewed its tariffs by 75 percent as the current tariff regime has been eroded by inflation, a senior official has said.
Speaking during a tariff review meeting, Gweru Mayor Josiah Makombe said the new tariffs have been forced due to the harsh economic conditions and would be effective from August 1.
“In the month of June we collected ZWD17 031 091, 06 against a projection to make use of ZWD14 744 912 for service provision and ZWD5 830 698, 78 for salaries. Add the math; it’s a miracle that we are still surviving.
“I plead with our valued residents to ensure that we review our budget upwards by 75% of the approved tariffs for billable tariffs whilst non billable tariffs remain as they were. It will not be easy surely as this is a hard pinch,” Makombe said.
Background however tells that council had already effected 50% of the increment around March leading to an uproar from residents citing incapacitation to meet the increased bills as a result of the subsequent lockdown.
Council has now effected a 25% increment leaving them with a gap to revise tariffs by a further 25% again in the coming quarter towards achieving a 100% increment as pitched in the approved 2020 budget.
“We have agreed that we will review quarterly, as and when there is need, and now we needed to look at our tariffs again as inflation has resulted in prices of water chemicals, fuel and other products required for service delivery going up.
“Fuel has gone up from about $21 a litre to about $75 a litre and council does not get any subsidy from anywhere,” he added.
Makombe also said council was also now looking at the possibility of coming up with income generating projects so as to lessen burden on the rate payer.
“We are coming from a situation where everything was rundown. Go Beer used to be our cash cow, we are now resuscitating it and we have engaged a company that is into brewing of opaque beer.
“Our parking has not been giving us much and we are also partnering some players to close the existing leakages. Other existing non-functional projects include council farms and quarry claims. All those will be resuscitated to help reduce the service expenses from the rate payer,” he further said.
Acting town clerk Vakai Chikwekwe also reported rampant water infrastructure vandalism elading to major losses.
“Some people are vandalising water channels and then they re-route it through cannels to their gardens. “Last month we arrested 30 people for stealing water,” he said.
In the new tariffs, burial fees for residents have increased from $394 to $788.
Weekly refuse collection has increased from $34 to $85, while fixed charges for water have increased from $42 to $86.
Gweru Residents Forum director Charles Mazorodze challenged the local authority to consult residents before coming up with figures.
Other residents reiterated the need for council to come up with income generating projects and not to look at the rate payer who is already overburdened.