THE government plans to review rural water charges to enable Tanzanians living in rural areas have access to the service at much affordable price.
Minister for Water Jumaa Aweso expressed the government intention to continue bringing relief in water charges to rural dwellers on Friday as he was winding up the debate for his ministry’s new budget estimates he presented in Parliament on Thursday.
The minister said his ministry’s plan focuses on reducing water charges as part of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s campaign of ensuring rural populations don’t shoulder the burden of paying high water bills.
“President Samia wants Tanzanians, especially rural women to have access to the service at much affordable price. When addressing the Parliament in April last year the President ordered me to stand up after which she directed me to ensure the mission is accomplished. We will die at water projects’ sites,” Aweso told the House.
Stressing on his plan to review water charges applicable in rural areas Minister Aweso said the new indicative water prices will be made public right after the conclusion of the ongoing budget parliamentary meeting.
However, the minister asked water clients to pay bills on time to ensure water authorities perform their functions without inconveniences.
Speaking on complaints arising from bogus bills the minister said the ministry has come up with Unified Billing System, an arrangement that involves sending a message ( sms) to the customer, stating the amount of water used in a particular period.
He said having received the message the customer is required to confirm after which the bill is issued for settling. However, he said, he has directed water authorities to have honest water metre readers as part of the strategy to do away with complaints on fake bills.
But, the youthful minister said the long term plan is to have pre-paid water metres, a project he said his ministry is now studying. “Our direction now is to move away from post-paid water billing system by turning to pre-paid metres in the near future,” he said.
Speaking on loss of water, the minister said one of the key performance indicators (KPIs) against which water authorities’ leaders, especially directors,are assessed is to reduce water loss in their areas.
However, he said the ministry will, in the next financial year, continue replacing worn out water supply infrastructures to contain the problem.
The minister’s commitment on curbing water losses came with a caution, saying investigation carried out in many parts of the country revealed that the problem resulted from illegal water connection by some individuals.
As part of the ministry’s plan to improve underground water exploration and drilling, the minister said the government plans to buy 25 modern water drilling machines and four sets of exploration equipment.
The minister received congratulations from fellow MPs for the good performance of his ministry since he was appointed to the post. The minister has successfully unlocked over 120 water projects out 177 that had completely stalled. A total of 65 legislators contributed to the budget speech.
“I have never seen the ministry being congratulated for its performance in this Parliament. You have energized us,” Aweso said.
Commenting on the ministry’s performance, Speaker Dr Tulia Ackson asked the government to come up with a comprehensive strategy of implementing projects by taping water from lakes (Tanganyika, Nyasa and Victoria) and rivers.
In the new financial year, the ministry plans to spend a total of 702.361bn/- out of which 51.462bn/- is for Recurrent Expenditures and 657.899bn/-for Development Expenditures.