Taps run dry in BT, LL residents accuse LWB of overbilling

Thousands of people in Blantyre city and surrounding areas are on high risk of contacting waterborne disease if the current water problems are not addressed.

The city and surrounding townships are currently experiencing water shortages as in some parts of the districts water taps have run dry, while in some areas people are getting dirty tap water.

Most affected areas including populous townships of Chilobwe, Ndirande, Bangwe, Chilomoni, Chirimba, Zingwangwa, Chimwankhunda and Chigumula.

Following the water crisis some residences have resorted to unprotected sources such as streams, wells and rivers for water, putting their lives at risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as bilharzias and cholera.

Queuing for water

Women and children are spending sleepless nights walking distances in search for water, which is the key component of life.

And in residential areas like Chinyonga, Nkolokosa, Chitawira and Manja apart from experiencing water shortages, they have for past two weeks been accessing dirty tap water, which Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has attributed to damaged main water-supplying pipes.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, Blantyre Water Board Public Relations Officer, Innocent Bvundula said the institution had instituted a team that investigated the situation in order to come with recommendation on how to improve the condition.

Bvundula said the water supplying body was currently working on replacing old pipes and renovating some of old and damaged water supplying structures in order to have improved water supply system.

“As of dirty water, we received that complaint and our engineered have worked on that, but it might happen that in some areas they are still experiencing the problem, that might be due to broken water pipes and there is a need for the residence to alert our offices,” Bvundula explained.

He said at of now the institution has managed to rectify water shortage problems in areas like Ndirande Newline which had no water for almost two weeks and expressed hopes the situation will improve soon.

Lilongwe

Meanwhile, residents of Lilongwe have expressed concern over huge water bills they are receiving from Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) which they say the board is failing to justify.

One resident in Area 18 told Mana that the monthly average water bill for his household was MK900 but he said the bills he received for the months of August and September were MK5,800 and MK6,300 respectively.

“We haven’t made any changes to our water use habits but how can the bill shoot from MK900 to MK6,000?” querried the resident adding, “I went to Lilongwe Water Board offices to seek clarification but instead of clarifying the development the man at the Queries Desk just turned the monitor of the computer he was using towards me and said, ‘It’s not me, just look at these figures for yourself!'”

Lilongwe Water Board Publicist Trevor Phoya admitted to have received complaints from their customers saying there were a number of factors contributing this.

“This may be due to the 26 percent average raise of our tarrif,” said Phoya, “But there have also been cases whereby our meter readers may not go to our customers’ houses to read the meter and they instead make estimates, in which case we correct the figures when our clients lodge a complaint.”

Phoya said residents should make sure that they always observe meter reading when the board’s meter readers visits their residences to ensure that the entered figures correspond to the actual figures on the meter.

He also warned Lilongwe Water Board clients against leaving taps open whenever there are water cuts saying this contributes to high water bills.—(Additional reporting by Malawi News Agency)

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