By Upenyu Chaota
MASVINGO—The city council has proposed a $32 323 183 budget for the year 2019 with much funds channelled towards the provision of clean and safe water to residents who have been hit by serious water shortages since August this year.
Out of the total budget, $13 614 821 is capital and $18 708 362 is revenue. A total of $5 million has been set aside for Water Augmentation Phase 2 while $270 000 has been channelled towards the servicing of Bushmead pumps.
Residents have called on the city council to purchase new pumps since the current pumps have become a thorn in the flesh to the city fathers owing to numerous breakdowns.
The current pumps were sourced from India in 2015 with a 20 year lifespan replacing the Rhodesian pumps installed in 1967. Barely three years into their lifeline, the pumps broke down countless times resulting in residents to push for new pumps.
In the budget proposal, the city fathers say that a total of $50 million is needed to upgrade the water supply system in the city.
“The total budget requirement for the Water Augmentation Phase Two that will entail construction of a duplicate water treatment plant is $50 million. We have budgeted for $5 million in this current budget and expect the remaining $50 million to be spread over the next four years,” reads the budget proposal.
Owing to price hikes, the budget proposes an increment on water charges by 66 percent and this has drawn scorn from residents who have since challenged the proposal.
“Water and services charges are expected to generate $12,7million in revenue. The water tariffs has been increased to $1.20 per m3 and refuse to $1.40 per bin collection for domestic consumers. This has been necessitated by the increase in the prices of goods and services required by Council to provide that service,” reads the proposal.
The city council intends to build two clinics on a budget of $300 000 while $2 million dollars has been channeled towards the Mucheke trunk sewer project which has been stagnant for over four years.
Residents under the banner Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers Alliance (MURRA) have since filed rejection papers protesting against the decision to hike water charges.
MURRA spokesperson Godfrey Mtimba said the council has no right to increase water charges because they are not able to provide enough water supply.
“If we were getting enough water supply we would be talking a different story. We will not pay more for less. Our people have rejected that proposal and it will not sail through,” said Mtimba.