By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – For the second year running, national water and electricity regulator LEWA (Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority) has yet again resolved to approve WASCO’s (Water and Sewerage Company) requested water and sewerage tariff hike proposed for the year 2023 to 2024.

As a result, this will see users being forced to fork out more money for portable water, and sewerage services in the midst of an ailing economy which is undoubtedly still reeling from the ramifications of the covid 19 pandemic.

All the proposed tariffs and charges are set to take effect from the 1st of September this year.

The authority (LEWA) received a tariff application from WASCO on the 19th June 2023. In its application, WASCO had requested a total revenue requirement of M298, 835 million, comprising of M251, 425 million and M47.410 million for water and sewerage respectively.

In order to achieve the revenue requirement WASCO had proposed an upward adjustment in water and sewerage tariffs for the Financial Year 2023/24 putting forward a 14,8045% increase in domestic and non domestic volumetric charges, a 4,700% increase in domestic  and non domestic standing charges and a 31.1 % increase in sewerage tariffs.

Besides the request for an upward adjustment in water and sewerage tariffs, WASCO had also requested to be allowed full (100%) cost recovery on new water connection effective from the start of the Financial Year of 2023 to 2024.

In addition, WASCO had requested to be allowed automatic annual adjustment on the prices of input materials by official inflation value post the 2023 to 2024 financial Year, they alternatively proposed to submit its updated connection cost card to the authority on an annual basis for consideration and approval.

Upon much review and consultation LEWA decided to approve the tariff hike but however not on the projected numbers initially proposed by WASCO. In its conversion on the 28th of August to deliberate on the application, utilizing relevant tariff review procedures, LEWA decided that WASCO’s total Revenue requirement would be M232,29 million instead of the initially required M298,835, and 36,61 million for water and sewerage services respectively.

“Ladies and gentlemen we don’t necessarily aim to antagonise WASCO at all times when a Revenue Requirement is made, as a matter of fact we aim to see the company comply and reach the standards which we approve of. It is normal and not out of the ordinary that when an application is made the decision doesn’t at all times give way to all the required items, upon much review and considering all necessary factors a decision is made, said LEWA Chief Executive, Mr Monti Ntlopo.

“We also consult WASCO on an ongoing basis so as to when they make an application it can be successful and reach cost effective tariffs. We believe after much review our decision is just and fair for WASCO and the public in general.

Looking into the final figures in order to meet the Revenue requirement of M232, 2 29 million, water volumetric tariffs and standing will be increased by 4, 9460% and 1, 2959% respectively. In order to meet that of M36, 61million for sewerage services, volumetric tariff will be increased by 1.57%

Water connection fees will be adjusted upwards by 8% for the 2023 to 2024 Financial Year pending a comprehensive study. Other charges are set to remain the same as in the previous 2022 to 2023 Financial Year.

On their part WASCO Strategic Service Section member on behalf of the manager, Ms Moipone Lehloara said WASCO was continuously collaborating and engaging government to ensure it utilizes other means to recuperate lost revenue and were continuously reviewing their strategies to ensure they comply and reach required levels of service and required standards.

“We now have what we call tariff determination, which ensures we rectify where we may have lacked, we are going to go back to the drawing board, introspect so we can eventually supply a good service to Basotho”, she said.