WUC disconnects 15 044 due to unpaid bills

Daniel Chida

A total of 4751 homes in Gaborone have been disconnected by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) following the end of State of Public Emergency (SOPE).

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The disconnections which were carried out between 15th January 2022 and 10th November 2022 amounted to P72, 057, 758.

When responding to a question by Member of Parliament for Bonnington South, Christian Greeff, Minister of Land and Water Affairs, Dr Kefentse Mzwinila said that from the 4751, only 1471 number of customers responded and paid P7,991,238 while a total of P63,780,428 is still not responded to by customers.

He said that the total amount paid is less, relative to numbers responded as some customers have responded and others are on payment plans.

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The Minister further explained that the total number of disconnections done in the country on the same period was 22,637 with customers owing P147,040,975. “From these only 10 873 customers responded, and they paid P27,088,211 and were reconnected. A total of 13 505 customers did not respond even after disconnections and owe P120,401,358 which is being followed.”

Mzwinila informed the house that his ministry was in the process of rolling out alternative advanced technologies for metering. “The component is called an Automated Device Management System that is intended to manage all devices at WUC, including both post or prepaid.”

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He said that the system necessitated installation of smart meters which were installed as a pilot in Nanogang School while another batch of 1000 meters were installed in Village in Gaborone.

He said that the facility makes it possible for the Corporation to read meters automatically. “The system further allows the implementation of pre or part payment at system level, an approach similar to that used by mobile phone companies.”

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Mzwinila said that the Corporation is currently in the process of running a proof of concept for prepayment on smart meters which will be concluded within 12-16 weeks. “Since WUC Enterprise Resource Planning software is from a company called SAP Software Solutions, the corporation will be procuring a system that will interface with SAP Software Solutions to facilitate prepayment.”

Mzwinila said that in an effort to improve its billing system, WUC undertook a Billing Transformation drive, where customer bills are based on actual meter reading and not on estimates.

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He said that previously in the event, a reading was not sourced from a customer meter, the Corporation system would then bill a customer basing on an estimate which was usually a customer average consumption. “With the transformation referred to above, The Corporation sends out meter readers to read meters, and in instances where meter readers are unable to gain access, customers are requested to send in their meter reading using different self-service platforms/channels introduced by the Corporation.”

He said that with the use of actual meter readings, it is anticipated that the transformation would reduce billing queries as bills will be based on actual meter readings which both the customer and Corporation have access to. “In addition, the Corporation is embarking on an exercise to move meters from the inside of the yard to the outside of the yard to enable easy access for meter readers.”

During SOPE, no disconnections were being done, and following its end at the end of September 2021, still no disconnections were effected as the public was given a grace period of up to the end of December 2021 to have paid their outstanding bills.

Mzwinila said that it was only during the month of January 2022 when the disconnections were effected.

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