By JOHN SAKALA
Mulonga Water and Sanitation Company need to do more sensitization to its consumers on the affordability of its water.
Just imagine, 1, 000 litres (l) of treated water costing only K4.77 ngwee and yet one bottle of mineral water of 250 millilitres gobbling K5.
This means if a customer was to accidentally leave the tap open and it runs for 30 minutes, still the cost will be within K5.
Then what makes the water bills so high at the end of the month?
MWSC Director of Finance Sila Siame said water just like electricity, the customer is given some subsidies for the first band of 1, 000 litres.
Mr Siame said the second purchases is aimed at making the customer realise the need to preserve water and use it prudently.
He was making this revelation during the Mulonga tariff adjustment consultative scooping meetings for the period 2020 to 2023.
The utility firm wants to increase its water tariffs for the period 2020 to 2023 to cope with prevailing economic atmosphere.
In his presentation, he said the proposed minimal tariff adjustment is meant to help the utility firm meet with the growing demand for the commodity.
Mr Siame said the three towns of Chingola, Chililabombwe and Mufulira are ever expanding thereby needing plans to cope with the growing population.
He said once the tariffs are adjusted upwards, it will help in full recovery of the cost putting in mind Mulonga Water is not a profit making firm but service providing firm.
“The consumer price index is increasing at a sharp rate from 211.52 to 231.27, the Bank of Zambia base rate at the moment is at 10.25 per cent, Zesco has already hiked power by 75 per cent with another looming increase.
“Once the tariffs adjustment proposal has been approved by National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO), we will embark on developmental projects with a view to increase coverage both in water and sanitation. We plan to be spending K180 million annually. Energy to pump water will be costing us 10 per cent of K180m, operations costs, maintenance and wages will get 55 per cent of K180m and chemicals which mostly are imported will gobble five per cent,” he said.
Mr Siame clarified that the per cent of the tariffs adjustment is arrived at by the regulator, NWASCO and the utility firm simply follow directive.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to get views from the key stakeholders and present them to NWASCO for approval.
And Chingola Mayor Titus Tembo said the secret to making the customer happy is providing quality and quantity water to customers.
Mr Tembo said hiking tariff is not a problem but there is need for Mulonga to improve its services to the people so as to win good will of the people.
He implored the consumers to develop water preserving habits because water is the most sort after resource.
The Mayor called on residents to help the utility firm in guarding the infrastructure from vandals.
He said some water and sanitation disruptions are due to vandalism of the water and sanitation network.
Meanwhile, Mulonga Public Relations Manager Debora Kangende admitted on the need of sensitizing the community on the affordability of the commodity.
There are some complaints that come in the mine areas of Chingola where customers say that they receive brown water in the morning and they have to run the tap for about 3o seconds for water to clear thereby accumulating higher metre reading.
But this myth too was dispelled by Ms Kangende saying the customer is entitled to subsidies which cover up in such eventualities.