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Water tariffs hike looms

Business

Mafa Moleko

The Lesotho Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) has demanded a 15 per cent tariff increase after submitting their application to the Lesotho Electricity and water Authority (LEWA) on volumetric tariff and standing charges for the year 2022 to 2023.

According to WASCO Information Manager Lineo Moqasa the application was filed on December 16, 2021 which outlines the standing charges to be applied for both domestic and nondomestic customers. Wasco has also proposed that the only water tariffs should be adjusted while the sewerage tariffs remain the same. The standing charge for the band A shall not be changed from zero and the tariff increase has been requested sewerage services.

She said the required revenue stands on M311.85 million which is M264.65 million for water and M47.20 million for sewerage .Amongst others WASCO mentioned that the reasons to which the application is to rehabilitate the WASCO properties.

The endeavor to upsurge the bills comes after three or two years of keeping the tariffs constant. The last time the tariffs were increased was in 2019 when they increased with 3% for volumetric for all consumers and 4.7% for the standing charges that also included the Band A consumers.

The sewage company mentioned that due to the inflammation increase that have affected the cost of goods and services that are consumed by WASCO, the company is enforced to increase prices.

The water utility company outlined the need to fund the water supply network and expand the water supply to new areas of Lesotho. The maintenance of water supply and sewerage infrastructure was also defined as another reason for the tariff increase.

Among other causes WASCO is driven by its enthusiasm to enhance the skills of its workers, a prerequisite to have an upturn of charges in order to fund trainings of their staff. In the meantime, due to the surging poverty in Lesotho, the company has not requested an increase or change to the standing charge for the Band A customers. WASCO states that even with the proposed increase, the costs of safe potable WASCO water would still costs the customer less than 1 Lisente per liter of water.

“WASCO is conscious of the need for water as a basic service that must be accessible even by the poorest members of society. It is for this reason that the company has not requested an increase or changes to the standing charge for Band A customers. For this reason, the proposed increase would only result in an increase of just M4.15 to the monthly bill of a Band A customer,” Said WASCO.

It is also reported that the water company contemplate to increase the potable water output in Leribe, pointing the sufferings of the residents due to limited treatment capacity. The company also mentions that the two projects which are ongoing in Maputsoe and Hlotse shall be completed although the projects are expected to double the current water production and fill the gap of water shortage in those areas.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Consumer Protection Association Khoabane Khalema said WASCO said they had a meeting with the stakeholders which includes WASCO and LEWA and as they believe that WASCO as the government company will relieve them.

“What WASCO is asking for is not easy for people who are already struggling due to Covid-19 and economic factors. Therefore we asked LEWA to not allow WASCO to increase the tariffs with 15% they should not go beyond 4%,” he said.

Khalema mentioned that WASCO is careless in some areas of its work hence they turn to encounter losses in their work. In this regard he mentioned that if they were very active in their works especially in the villages they could have reduced the costs for themselves and Basotho.

“Sometimes when they plant the water pipes in the villages, they do not dig deeper and the pipes get destroyed by animals and cars, when they bust water flows and they take time to respond in such examples they lose more than what they gain,” Khalema said.

He further mentioned if WASCO wants to establish some training for their staff they should find simpler ways to do it that will cut the costs.

On the other hand the Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (LEWA) economic manager Thuso Ntlama in an interview with this publication mentioned that WASCO fails to collect some of its debts from individuals and the government sectors.

It was reported that the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) owes over 13 million to WASCO which until now WASCO fails to collect. In an attempted to cut water supply to the LDF the Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro directed WASCO connect water for LDF. Newsday has found on good authority that one of the hurdles facing the water utility company to collect its proceeds is birthed by the powers vested to Principal Secretaries and Ministers who shouts orders that the company should reconnect water services whenever they endeavour to cut water connections to discipline treacherous clients.

This follows failure to furnish clarity by the Ministry of Water, its Principal Secretary and Public Relations Officer (PRO), the PRO of WASCO, LDF and the Ministry of Water failed to give account of how the LDF and WASCO matter was handled after the company cut water supply recently.

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