Norton runs dry over $117m debt

The Herald

Blessings Chidakwa-Municipal Reporter

A serious health hazard is looming for more than 100 000 Norton residents who are at risk of contracting diarrhoeal diseases after the Harare City Council this week disconnected water supplies to the dormitory town over a $117 million debt.

Norton Town Council Secretary Mr Kizito Muhomba yesterday described the situation as desperate saying they held an emergency meeting with Harare City Council where they proposed a payment plan.

However, supplies had not been restored by late yesterday afternoon, increasing the risk of diseases, such as cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery as residents resorted to unsafe water sources.

“After Harare promised to reconnect water supplies, we are expecting to start receiving the precious liquid tomorrow (today),” he said.

The dormitory town, with a daily water demand of about 25 mega litres, has reportedly been getting five mega litres from the capital city until supplies were completely cut off.

Mr Muhomba confirmed that Norton owed Harare over a $117m.

“The bills per month have become astronomical. We are receiving an average of $30 million per month.

“While we are making a payment plan, it will take some time to clear the debt as it is huge,” he said.

The disconnection of Norton comes after Harare City Council, which is owed about $8 billion by other ratepayers, promised to name and shame its biggest debtors alleging they were ignoring appeals for them to pay up their dues.

Acting Harare Mayor Mr Musarurwa Mutizwa recently said the city’s operations were being choked by the ballooning debt.

“Failure to pay over the years has gotten us to where we are today. Council is owed over $8 billion which if paid today, would go a long way in addressing the sticking service delivery areas. 

“We have put mechanisms to recover the debts so that we can plough that money into service delivery. Soon, we are publicising names of huge debtors who are holding onto public funds meant for service delivery. 

“Services were provided and they did not pay. They are now holding the city to ransom,” he said.

The Herald