The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe has told Parliament that there has been no tariff increase changes effected since the Water Sector Reforms were institutionalised through a Presidential directive last year.
Kedikilwe said the directive stipulated that following the transfer of water services from the Department of Water Affairs to Water Utilities, tariff levels that are applicable across the country will remain unchanged for the first year.
He said areas like Mogoditshane and Tlokweng will be considered for progressive adjustment with the prevailing Water Utilities Corporation rates for Gaborone.
Kedikilwe said consistent with the directive, to date there are no tariff increase changes effected. He was answering a question from the MP for South East South, Odirile Motlhale. The MP wanted to know whether the minister was aware that the recent transfer of services from Water Affairs to Water Utilities has led to an excessive increase in both tariffs and connection fees.
Motlhale also wanted to know whether the increase was intended and if it was sufficiently communicated to the public. He also wondered whether this would not militate against the poverty eradication drive spearheaded by the Office of the President. Kedikilwe said the only difference between the two organisations was that Water Utilities included VAT while Water Affairs does not bill for VAT.
Water Utilities charges a standard connection fee of P950, he revealed, while Water Affairs charges P879. "DWA [Department of Water Affairs] has additional charges if the customer is outside the water works area. The standard connection fee at WUC [Water Utilities Corporation] is applicable if the connection is within six metres from a service pipeline. Anything beyond six metres will be a cost-based connection which is higher than a standard charge."
He noted that this varied according to the distance from the service line for instance if
He said changes relating to Water Sector Reforms including VAT charges and increases in connection fees were sufficiently communicated to the public. He revealed that he has addressed kgotla meetings in the villages that will be taken by WUC in different phases of the Water Sector Reforms. "I addressed the first kgotla meetings for Phase I takeover in Mogoditshane and Tlokweng in March 2009. Public consultations are ongoing. WUC addresses community leaders and thereafter public meetings following the minister's addresses. The issues are further communicated by the Local Authorities Council for workshops with Non-Governmental Organisations and civil societies," Kedikilwe told parliament. He said the overarching objective of the Water Sector Reforms Project is to extend water services to all areas by 2016 and to provide sustainable and cost-effective, efficient water and waste water services to all. "Guaranteeing access to potable water and improved sanitation for low-income households is already a priority to government and will contribute towards efforts of poverty eradication as opposed to militating against it. In the event that connection fees and tariffs are increased, such increases will be guided by policies including those aiming at poverty eradication."