SOME consumers have raised concern over water bills issued by the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (Dawasco) saying they were not based on meter reading.
Speaking to the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ on condition of anonymity, a resident of Upanga East, in Dar es Salaam, complained that bills for water units do not correspond to the amount of water consumed. “My meter was recently disconnected for more than a week but to my surprise, I was charged the same units that I had paid for in the previous months,” she complained.
Another customer who resides in Kariakoo, Juma Hassan, said that he had never seen a meter reading agent for three months, yet he continued to receive water bills. “I presume that the water bills are generated based on estimations rather than proper meter reading,” he lamented.
The Electricity and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) Public Relations Manager, Mr Titus Kaguo, said that Dawasco should have water meters in place for all their customers. According to him, Dawasco had been advised, since last year, that all customers must be provided with meters.
“All estimated billings should have ended last year, and if any of such bills continue to be served to customers, that is against Ewura guidelines to Dawasco. He said that a performance report is issued every year reflecting on the quality of water, water loss and administrative performance of all water suppliers in the country.
“It is not true that we do not focus on water regulations as some people want to suggest,” he said. On Dawasco’s billing system, the Public Relations Officer, Ms Teddy Mlengu, said water estimates were only applicable where Commercial Assistants (CA) cannot take meter readings.
“There are cases whereby some customers refuse CAs from taking meter readings at their residences,” she said, adding that some customers lock the gates and do not cooperate with the CAs. She explains that failure to take meter readings is not due to shortage of CAs as some people would claim. “The challenge facing Dawasco is that some 40,000 clients are still without meters,” she said.
There are 101, 290 metered customers which is 87 per cent of the total clients. There are 115, 436 customers in Dar es Salaam, a major commercial city with more than four million people. It is true that all customers should have been provided with water meters, but because of administrative delays and limited human resources Dawasco has not accomplished this, she said.
“We are optimistic that by early next year this exercise will be done,” she remarked. But the aggrieved customers have confessed that they have never registered their complaints with Dawasco. The PRO further said that there were three ways of issuing bills to customers.
The first one is that the designated CAs who are in charge of taking meter readings deliver the bills to the clients in their areas, she said. Dawasco has created 13 zones in Dar es Salaam and 30 CAs are deployed. “The CA carries special dispatches that clients have to sign when meter reading is taken and upon receiving the bills,” she said.
“There is no way the CA can concoct a bill since meter reading is conducted in front of the customer who verifies it,” said the PRO.
Another billing system is through phone SMS, where a customer has to register with Dawasco online system. This is also connected with banking mobile system.
The third method is that customers have access to paying points in any of the 13 Dawasco offices existing in Dar es Salaam.
Analysing the water distribution in the city and its suburbs, the PRO said that Upanga, Kinondoni and Ilala are receiving water between 8-12 hours a day.
However, Boko was receiving 16-20 hour-water distribution daily, she said. The water demand in Dar es Salaam is 450 million litres, but Dawasco capacity is to supply 300 million litres daily. Another challenge is on customers who are in squatters that are difficult to reach.
On the controls instituted by Dawasco, she said that there was a Geographical Information System which shows the layout of streets and customers in Dar es Salaam. She also said that there is a mechanism to capture complaints from customers, whereby the 13 offices have a desk that registers complaints.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the Consumer Consultative Council (CCC), a consumer watchdog responsible for educating consumers on their rights, confirmed that they have continued to receive complaints from consumers on water billing system.
“We are here to advise the consumers on the process of registering their complaints with Ewura,” said an official of CCC. The official also said that once the matter is registered with Ewura, CCC in some cases offers legal support to the complainants.
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