Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) has justified its move to adjust upwards its tariff structure by an average of 50 percent from K194 to K291 per cubic metre, saying it will improve service delivery.
Executive director of Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama), John Kapito, questioned the board’s move to increase the tariffs, saying the rates are too high.
But general manager of LWB, Alfonso Chikuni, justified the move, saying the board has taken time to review its rates despite the surging production driven by the rise in power and chemical prices.
He said currently the LWB system is inadequate to meet Lilongwe’s demand for water and that infrastructure is in poor condition requiring replacement.
“With the rapid growth of population in Lilongwe, demand is currently far out pacing water supply. Even with improvements in efficiency of the distribution network, collection efficiency, a major intervention in tariff regime is imperative to ensure LWB can keep pace with required network extension,” noted Chikuni.
He added: “LWB generally can cover operating costs through revenues generated but there is limited scope to finance capital investment in production and expansion of operations. Therefore capital investment mostly comes from development partners. With the decrease in donor interventions, the Board needs to be self sustaining.”
According to Chikuni, LWB distributes 61 thousand cubic metres against the 75 thousand cubic metres needed per day.
“Due to other factors we are not able to meet the demand. For instance, 35 percent of the total production is non-revenue water and at the moment we have a 14-thousand cubic meters deficiency which we hope will be reduced by our efforts in cutting down non-revenue water,” Chikuni said.
Chikuni pointed out that LWB has not, in practical terms, changed the rates for water charges to its customers for some time although production costs have surged, driven by a rise in power and chemical prices.
Government stopped subsidising utilities, taking the role to regulate the sector and to invest in proactive capacity.