Blantyre Water Board disconnection campaign irks customers

Some residents in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre have warned their Water Board (BWB) of chaos should they disconnect their water.

During the week, Blantyre Water Board has been going round the city warning its customers with more than a month long outstanding water bills that they will have their supply disconnected starting Monday, February 18.

The parastatal has been visiting all the city’s townships in hired mini buses informing defaulting customers through public address system that they will have no water if they do not square their bills.

In what it calls massive water disconnection  campaign, BWB warns it shall embark on a massive and non-discriminatory disconnection campaign on all accounts with outstanding balances of 30 days and above from February 18.

A woman drawing water from an unprotected well in Manja Township in Blantyre due to water scarcity- Photo by Lucky Mkandawire

A woman drawing water from an unprotected well in Manja Township in Blantyre due to water scarcity- Photo by Lucky Mkandawire

“Blantyre Water Board is warning all customers with accumulated water bills to rush to your nearest pay point to settle your bills or you will have your water disconnected,” the water body has been saying via the mobile PA system.

However, some residents have laughed off the development wondering which water BWB will be disconnecting when the taps have remained dry for weeks in most parts of the city, as evidenced by the body’s press statements to that effect.

“This is absurd, we have had no water here for some days and as I am speaking the taps are still dry so which water will they be disconnecting,” wondered a Mrs Malonje of Chatha area at Chilobwe.

Another customer at Chimwankhunda Dam told Nyasa Times he was ready for anything but would not allow his water to be disconnected when he has stayed for days with no water.

“Water has just started running here and they say they want to disconnect supply? Surely they will not succeed at my house, am ready for any battle,” said the customer who refused to be named.

BWB will deploy scores of its officers in the townships for the exercise which will take about a week.

“Any disconnected water supply will only be reconnected upon full payment of the outstanding amount and a reconnecting fee of K3500,” a statement issued by the body reads.

The board further forewarns that there will be no negotiations or discussions after being disconnected “as they are usually difficult to entertain”.

Reconstituted under the Malawi Water Works Act No. 17 of 1995 to supply potable water for commercial, industrial, institutional and domestic use in the supply area of Blantyre city and surrounding areas, BWB has been attacked by its clients for poor services.

Customers have argued that the services the body renders fall below expectation and their much touted slogan of ‘water is life’.

“If water is life why then does it allow us to say for weeks without the commodity,” questioned Charles Meleki, a resident of Manja Township, who also poked fun at the board’s mission statement which claims it is to provide reliable and affordable water supply services to customers whilst effectively contributing to the development of the national economy and sustenance of the environment.

On Saturday, some places such as Manja, Nkolokosa and Chimwankhunda Dam stayed for over 12 hours without water supply.

BWB supplies water to over 40,000 customers categorized as domestic, industrial, institutional and commercial in Blantyre city and rural and other surrounding areas such as Bvumbwe and Chiradzulu.

The water body extracts the commodity from Shire River at Walker’s Ferry some 40 kilometres away from Blantyre City but it also has Mudi treatment works near its head offices.

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