Residents refuse to pay municipal bills

Some of the beneficiaries of the low-cost Build Together project in Grootfontein were allegedly instigated by some council members to disconnect their water metres and stop paying for water.

This means some residents will access water illegally, thus evade paying bills, which will be in addition to the people living at the town's Single Quarters that also do not pay for municipal services.

The recent development comes against the backdrop of a debt of N$75 million owed by residents, businesses and government entities and agencies to the municipality for rates, taxes and water.

New Era was informed the debt owed by municipal clients stood at N$72 million last December but has since escalated to N$75 million.

The chairman of the management committee Entiel Tsanigab and the chief executive officer Charles Kariko denied the claim that some councillors instigated residents to stop paying municipal bills.

"Such complaint has not reached my office yet and in fact my office did not give such directive, nor do we give directives by word of mouth. Whatever decision we make goes through council and if approved a directive will be issued in black and white. I challenge those insinuating such issues to produce proof," said Kariko.

But some residents insist they have been informed to stop paying their water bills, rates and municipal taxes until the construction of their Build Together houses is completed.

"We were called to the municipality about two months ago and informed that we can have our water metres connected but will not be paying the water bills until such a time that our houses are completed, and those whose water metres are not connected yet can share with their neighbours," insisted one resident who attended the meeting that seemed not to have had the blessing of the CEO or town council.

"I once received a water bill of N$1000 and went to ask how come I am getting that because my house is not completed yet, and I was told to ignore it," added the resident who did not name the person who allegedly advised him to ignore the municipal bill.

Tsanigab however dismissed this as a rumour and stressed the smooth running of council depends on the revenues collected.

"If they don't pay their rates and taxes how is the institution going to progress and function? We have been very lenient with these people. We gave them one year to build and start paying but you still find some of these people fail to pay despite only paying N$36 per cubic litre per month. In addition the first 1000 cubic litres are free," he said.

He urged residents to settle their accounts.

"The water disconnection started last month and it is disconnected with an option for residents to make arrangements to settle their arrears," he said.

Government entities owe a combined debt of N$6.5 million, while N$10 million was accrued by residents of the Single Quarters that have not been paying municipal rates and taxes, and the remainder is divided among residents and businesses.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia