WUC debt strategy fails to yield results


Despite having achieved 22 hours of water supply per day against a target standard of 24 hours, Water Utilities Corporation’s (WUC) debt strategy that was put in place last month failed to yield results.

Following the lapse of State of Emergency (SoE) period, WUC gave customers a one-month grace period to settle their debts with a number of strategies in place but customers are still lagging behind with payments.

WUC chief executive officer (CEO), Gaselemogwe Senai said COVID-19 has impacted badly on the Corporation as they were compelled by circumstances and policy to open taps for everyone including those whose water supply had been disconnected.

He said the move negatively affected WUC as it incurred debt of P1.3 billion due to non-payments of bills especially by the domestic customers and high levels on non-revenue water due to amongst others authorised unbilled water consumption through bowsing.

“We had decided to also engage debt collectors to collect outstanding debts, but our efforts to engage debt collectors did not bear fruit in the past as we incurred expenses in associated costs,” he said when addressing a press briefing yesterday at Phakalane Estate.

Senai further stated that the move to open taps for everyone increased water abstracted for consumption purposes by over 10% with such increases in abstraction resulting in increased operating costs owing to increased chemical usages, power consumption and fleet costs.

He disclosed that their debt level rose to unprecedented levels moving from P800 million in early 2020 to over P1.3 billion to date due to non-payment of bills. Moreover, Senai said they have customers who have not paid their water bills for years coupled with inaccessible water meters.

“We have started discussions on the need to manage water accounts and we will continue to build on the same theme until water users take responsibility to manage the resource in homes and industries. Now, all costs associated with debt collections will be borne by owing customers,” Senai said.

He said through their efforts to sensitise water users to manage water accounts they embarked on a “Keep it flowing” campaign which is aimed at increasing awareness on water account management and educating customers on different ways to pay water bills amongst others.

Senai added that a month’s notice was given for customers to make payment arrangements and for those whose accounts are inactive to reapply even though it was not effective.

According to Senai, such efforts were made to avoid water supply disconnections, and resultant inconveniences. He stated that payment of water bills by all, WUC staff included, will enable the Corporation not only to stay afloat but also to provide sustainable water and wastewater services to the nation.

Addressing a different matter, Senai revealed that the water tariffs have been revised on levels above 5000 litres (5Kl) since August 2021, by 13.3% for domestic customer and 23.3% for government, business and industrial.

“The water tariff has not changed since 2017. The tariff is stepped upwards to encourage water conservation. The first category remains without tariff or VAT increase to ensure affordability to low-income households and those that make deliberate steps to conserve water,” Senai said.

Asked how much they collected during the one-month grace period, Water Quality manager, Teddy Ditsabatho said even though he did not have the exact figure, over P1 million was collected last week from owing customers.

Editor's Comment
Everyone should be on high alert

Close to half a million people in the country have been fully vaccinated while over 800,000 have received their first doses. Botswana has tackled tough hurdles, but the race is far from over.Batswana are gearing up for the holidays and there will be a lot of movement across the country and outside the country. Social gatherings are back in full force and now more than ever, people should observe COVID-19 protocols.Our neighbouring country South...

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