Ondangwa residents owe N$55m in water bills

• BY MARX ITAMALO

RESIDENTS of Ondangwa town owe council N$55 million in unpaid water bills. This information was revealed to Confidente by spokeswoman Petrina Shitalangaho, during an interview this week.

As a result, Shitalangaho said council has embarked on a water disconnection exercise in order to recover the money owed by consumers.

“Without this activity, council will have no means to pay for water from Namwater and this will affect all residents including those that are paying and those that are not paying,” she pointed out.

Shitalangaho said each month council disconnects water for those whose accounts are in arrears – households, businesses and institutions including government and non-government. She added this is not a new exercise but rather an operational activity that is done all the time as per council’s credit policy.

She further stressed that although residents owe millions, the Ondangwa town council does not owe the water utility a cent.

“Namwater accounts are paid on a monthly basis. Council does not owe Namwater. This is all thanks to people that are honouring their monthly water bills.”

According to her, council had informed water account holders to settle their bills before starting with water disconnections.

“Council on a monthly basis is sending out account statements to all account owners for the services rendered and within those water bills are always reminders for them to pay or risk their services being suspended,” she noted.

Regarding those that find themselves in a situation where they cannot pay their accounts, council invites them to come in person in order to enter into ‘favourable’ payment agreements, she noted.

“Those with suspended accounts can as well come in and pay some percentage of the arrears and enter into a payment agreement for their water to be restored even without settling the whole arrears,” Shitalangaho elucidated.

Asked whether the disconnecting of water will not hinder the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, she explained the decision to disconnect water was taken in consideration of the long term effect of the virus.

“We have taken this decision looking into the long term effects of Covid-19. It will be a disaster if we allow the non-payment of water to become a culture, which will subsequently lead to the whole supply of water by Namwater to be suspended,” she pointed our further highlighting that council has decided to intensify the water disconnection exercise in order to recover what residents owe so that the council’s finances are stable for them to honour its accounts with suppliers such as Namwater and power distributor Nored.

Asked whether the Ondangwa town council has taken into consideration the impact of Covid-19 on residents with regards to income, Shitalangaho stressed council is cognisant of job losses and other negatives that were experienced as a result of the pandemic.

“That is why for the past two years there was no tariff increases for all the services we are rendering. Council has instead reduced or are offering free sewer and water connections to people in all our informal areas where such services are available,” she pointed out whilst reminding the town’s residents to pay their water bills in order to avoid inconveniences especially as people prepare for the festive season.