Helpless Shurugwi Residents Forced To Install Prepaid Water Meters

By Mark Mhukayesango

SHURUGWI-December 9,2015-It never rains but pours for Shurugwi residents who have seen one of
their mining giants, Zimasco fall ,rendering hundreds jobless and
living in abject poverty, and are now faced with an adamant council
insisting on introducing water prepaid meters.
With most residents surviving from gold panning and mining chrome ,
barely making enough to take them through the month , council has
dealt them another heavy blow as they are now forced with having to
install prepaid water meters.
Despite numerous pleas to abandon the system, council has remained
adamant ,following Bulawayo, Harare among other towns in a bid to
increase the council revenue from $25 000 to $162 000.
Unlike other residents who have made noise about the prepaid water
meters, Shurugwi residents have their voice drowned by the powers that
be who seem to be having the last laugh.
Shurugwi does not have a residents association to voice the concerns
of the rate payers whose pleas have often landed on death ears.
Council Chairman Tsungai Makore Tuesday announced that the mining
town will by January 2016 begin to install the meters of which it has
already awarded a tender to a South African company.
Makore and his administration have taken advantage of the residents
and gone ahead to award a tender, according to Moses Maunganidze an
elder in Shurugwi.
“We have been protesting this decision for months now, but it seems
Makore and his friends do not want to hear us. Consuming water will be
very expensive after the introduction of water meters because if there
is a burst water pipe you will have to pay,” said Maunganidze.
Maunganidze told Radio VOP that the proposed revenue was too high and
was evidence of how greedy council was.
“How does a full council conspire to rip us off like that. Profits of
$137 000 are unacceptable ,they do not consider that people here are
jobless and are living from hand to mouth,” fumed Maunganidze.
Maunganidze said a group of Shurugwi residents approached member of
the house of Assembly Tapiwa Matangaidze seeking his intervention.
“We approached Matangaidze and he told us it was now local government
policy ,so there was nothing he could do,” Matangaidze said.
Council chairman, Makore  said the tender process for the water meters
was complete.
“We’ve already gone through the tendering process. I’m happy to say
the contractor is a company from South Africa which will recoup its
funds from the bills paid,” said Makore.
Maunganidze argued that the prepaid meters were an ill calculated
money making scheme.
“Has council ever asked themselves what they would do in the event
that the residents fail to pay,?” he asked.
Residents here do not have stable incomes ,hence the defaulting rate
will continue to increase since the greater part of the population are
former Zimasco workers.
Gracious Mutemeri said council decision will force residents to resort
to unsafe water sources.
“Residents who cannot afford paying for the meters will resort to
unsafe wells and other sources of water which will breed diseases like
cholera,” said Mutemeri.
“We already have a water crisis here ,so is this their way of reducing
consumption,? she asked.
Last month Shurugwi council resorted to used mine shafts for water as
the town ran dry.
Residents here have vowed to continue to resist the decision and even
lock away council officials mandated to install the water meters.
Water meters have already been installed at Unki Mine housing scheme
whilst council is targeting 2000 housing units in January.