THE National Assembly has approved 680.3bn/- Ministry of Water budget for 2021/22 fiscal year, with the Minister Jumaa Aweso assuring that there will be thorough and close monitor as well as professional implementation of water projects.
Winding up the ministry debate, Mr Aweso cited inflating water bills to customers as one of the areas he will be tough on, adding that there have been several complaints from consumers.
He further said they will ensure consumers pay genuine water bills and opted for prepaid meters as it is the case with electricity.
Elaborating, the Minister pointed out that he has been receiving complaints of inflated water bills to the consumers, cautioning water utilities authorities that they must ensure they issue charges according to water used and not otherwise.
However, he reminded the consumers that they should not pay the service charges as the government had removed them from the list, adding that water utilities must enforce the directive.
Equally, the Minister noted that to exercise accountability, efficiency and timely implementation of the water projects, they have taken disciplinary action against 118 engineers for dubious and delay of projects.
In the course, at least 59 contractors have been summoned before their professional bodies for disciplinary measures. At the same time, he assured the Parliamentarians that the government is taking all necessary measures to minimize water losses from the current 36 to 25 per cent.
Equally, the minister called upon the legislators and public to expose water thieves, because they deny the government its genuine revenue collections meant to address challenges in the chain of water provision, saying: “May I take this platform to direct water authorities to stop the practice of disconnecting water, especially during the weekends or public holidays.
“They must abide by the laws in regard to water provision and that water services must not be disconnected, whether during weekend or public holidays.”
In a related development, the minister directed the water sector regulatory to oversee the water bills and loss of revenue issues, saying they are the major challenges.
“Here EWURA has the responsibility to stand by the laws, which clearly mention days ratio water, but must not disconnect service to any customer,” he further said.
In regard to water bills defaulters, the Minister called upon EWURA to double its efforts in public awareness education, saying: “It is a right for every Tanzanian to be supplied with water, but he/she must also not ignore his/her responsibility to pay the bills…he should be educated in order to make him proud to pay that bill as his obligation, do not inflate the bills or charge him/her for any services that is not offered.”
Tabling the budget, Mr Aweso outlined to address water challenges and ensure reliable water availability, saying that he will make sure that water is also safe and clean.
Elaborating, Minister Aweso further said they have been making positive progress in providing water services in the public, citing increasing water access in rural areas from 70.2 in 2019/20 to 72.3 between July 2020 and March this year.
For the urban areas, he said several water projects implemented were implemented between July 2020 to March this year, terming it 86 per cent increase in comparison to 2019/20 financial year, when the rise was 84 per cent.