Issue of water unresolved

2019-06-05 06:00
Employees of the Mangaung Metro Municipality repaired a broken pipe in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, on 16 May.Photo: Teboho Setena

Employees of the Mangaung Metro Municipality repaired a broken pipe in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, on 16 May.Photo: Teboho Setena

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Residents and businesses within the Mangaung Metro Municipality should brace themselves for an insufficient water supply due to an unresolved dispute between Bloem Water and the city council.

The dispute is over a huge bill, estimated to worth millions.

Bloem Water indicated that the municipality owes huge amounts in unpaid accounts from January through April.

The city council, in turn, demands a refund to the value of R311 million from the service provider.

Qondile Khedama, municipal spokesperson, explained that the amount in question was due to overcharging by the service provider because of the city council’s non-compliance to the service level agreement entered by both parties.

“The city still maintains that Bloem Water has been over-charging the municipality on raw water. However, both institutions are committed to settling this dispute that is so costly to the community we serve,” Khedama said.

“We will continue to service our account with Bloem Water to ensure that our community does not suffer as a result of our differences.”

On Monday (03/06), Bloem Water informed the public that it has reduced water supply to all areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Mangaung Metro Municipality until further notice. It is not clear this will be when the Mangaung authority pay up what is due to the service provider or has been refunded its R311 million in overcharge.

Bloem Water reduced water supply by 30% earlier this year. The latest reduction is the second in a concerted effort to get payment from the city council.

Kido Thoabala, Bloem Water spokesperson, said a partial payment as requested by the municipality has been received towards the January account. However, the city council stopped making payments for the accounts of February through April.

“The Mangaung Metro has unilaterally declared the offsetting of the alleged debt while parties are still waiting for proposed mediation by the National Treasury,” Thoabala said.

The National Treasury has been engaged to mediate in the bitter dispute.

According to Thoabala, the mediation process by the National Treasury on 24 February resolved that the Metro should pay the agreed amount of outstanding debt to Bloem Water for the period of 12 months, while Bloem Water should write off the interest on the debt.

“Pursuant to this decision, the Bloem Water board executed the resolutions of the mediation by immediately writing off the interest of the outstanding debt, while the Mangaung Metro has not as yet adhered to any of the resolutions,” said Thoabala.

The Mangaung Metro provides water to Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu, Wepener, Van Stadensrus and Dewetsdorp.

According to Khedama, the city council has resolved to recover money due it by consumers defaulting their payment of water accounts.on implementation of the Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy.

“The total debt owed by residential consumers equals R3,2 billion.

“The municipality implements debt collection policy consistently for residential, business and governmental consumers,” he said.

While leakages and burst pipes account for the huge bill, Khedama said stringent measure were in place to address the challenge of ageing infrastructure.

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