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Proposed water tariff increase queried

1 Wasco replaces old water pipes with new onesMaseru-The Consumer Protection Association (CPA) believes that the proposed Water and Sewage Company’s  (Wasco)  tariff adjustment by 10% is inflationary and dangerous for Lesotho’s economy as it is already not performing as it should.

This was said by a representative from CPA Khoabane Khalema at a public hearing held on Thursday by the Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (Lewa), where the proposal was discussed in detail by the involved stakeholders which included both producers and consumers of water.

 

Khalema said CPA believes that the tariff increase of 10 percent proposed by Wasco would erode the dwindling purchasing power of consumers and that because water is one of the basic needs it should be affordable to everyone.

“The overall economic conditions are not favorable, we are therefore surprised that Wasco against this visible poor economic performance is asking for the increase,” he maintained. 

Strategic Services Manager at Wasco, Pefole, stipulated that the company needs at least M228, 484 million for the financial year 2017/18 of which, when broken down M191, 337, 869 million is for water and M37, 705, 044 is for sewage services respectively.

He reasoned that the increase is constituted by the high usage of water, purchasing tariffs that hike every year, the hike in prices by the presence of the Metolong Dam and the overall state of the economy. 

It was also learnt that Wasco has been operating at a loss for the past three years due to the fact that their expenses have been exceeding the money that comes in excerpt for last year where more money came in and exceeded expenses. Pefole elaborated that the Metolong Dam that was commissioned in November 2015, although it was anticipated to help serve water to most parts of Maseru, it had come with increased tariffs.

Metolong, being a high pressure dam poses challenges as the rusty old pipes used to transfer water usually burst, hence causing spillages.

The Lewa Tariffs and Pricing Committee questioned why it is that some places around Maseru still do not have water despite the presence of Metolong Dam, Wasco showed that some places are either too high or too far hence clear frameworks for piping are necessary.

A woman from Ha-Abia ‘Victoria Qheku said she has taken interest in water issues especially because Abia is one of the places that has serious water challenges where the commodity is only available during the night until 5 am every day.

“This is inconvenient because when people are supposed to be sleeping, they have to wake up to draw water so that they have something to drink, cook with and bath with the next day,” she revealed.

It is for this reason that Qheku feels she does not see why Wasco has to adjust tariffs every year.  She also said the justification behind the increase is lack of infrastructure, however there has been no practical implementation on the apparent infrastructure over the years.

Chairperson of the Lewa Board of Directors at Dr. Leboli Thamae, who is responsible for the Wasco Tariffs and Pricing Committee explained that it is their duty as to hold discussions with the general public once Wasco has proposed a tariff adjustment to gather the public’s opinion on the matter.

He said Wasco has submitted the adjustment application on January 10 2017 and they have three months as the board to gather all stakeholders in the matter in order to arrive at a decision. 

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