By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE cash-strapped Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has embarked on a massive exercise of disconnecting water supplies on all government departments over unpaid bills.
Government including ministries of justice, local government, and labour owe the BCC millions of dollars in outstanding rates.
As of October this year, the local authority was owed $477 million by residents, government ministries departments, industry and commerce.
According to the latest council’s report by the finance committee, the local authority has since receded a special arrangement, which shielded government departments from water cuts.
Ward 22 councillor Rodney Jele raised the issue of water disconnections over non-payment of rates by clients in a recent council meeting.
“Councillor Rodney Jele enquired about water disconnections over non-payment of rates. There was a rumour that council had disconnected water supplies in most government institutions which included Tredgold Building,” reads part of the report.
In response, the council ‘s finance committee chairperson, Silas Chigora confirmed the local authority had disconnected water supplies in a number of government institutions with outstanding amounts.
“Previously council had a set-off arrangement with the central government but this arrangement had since been stopped. Each government ministry was paying its council bills directly,” responded Chigora.
Recently, the local authority switched off water supplies at the Tredgold Building which houses the magistrates’ courts, labour court, department of surveyor general, social services, registrar general’s office, ministry of local government, and Umguza district coordinator’s offices.
In the past the local authority has been accused of disconnecting water from residents while sparing government departments.
The local authority was, however, forced to suspend water disconnections in residential areas following a High Court ruling that the exercise was in breach of sections 77 and 44 of the Constitution guaranteeing the right to safe and clean water.