Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has lamented that it loses 23 percent of its projected annual revenue to illegal water connections.
BWB acting director of distribution and commerce, Bright Mziliwanda, disclosed this on Thursday in Blantyre after the board disconnected Shire Highlands Hotel due to an illegal connection.
Mziliwanda disclosed that most illegal connections are made by clients who have been disconnected due to outstanding bills and they by-pass the BWB meter and tap water straight from the board’s pipes.
Mziliwanda said the board was on Wednesday tipped off by an anonymous source about the malpractice at the hotel, which was confirmed when they paid it a surprise visited on Thursday.
He said the board had disconnected water from the hotel several times in a four-month period, with the recent disconnection happening week ago due to an outstanding bill of K13 million.
“About two, three months ago, we disconnected water due to the bill. We were forced to remove our meter because they were struggling to pay and they were doing illegal connections without us knowing,” he said.
Mziliwanda said the board would charge the hotel an illegal connection penalty of as much as K200 000 after removing the supply line which will be re-installed only after the bill has been settled.
“We have not yet established the amount of water used for us to charge them in addition to the current outstanding bill of K13 million. But they are also supposed to pay penalty fee for the illegal disconnection which is currently K20 000 minimum but this being a bigger institution, the fee might go up to K200 000,” he said.
Mziliwanda said the board while can locate an area with revenue leakages using the back meter, it cannot pinpoint where illegal connections have been made, hence BWB would engage its employees to conduct individual inspections in the locations.
Efforts to seek the hotel’s response were unsuccessful as the reception staff refused to field our questions, saying only the hotel manager, who was out of office, is mandated to deal with the media.
In an earlier interview, BWB said it was losing K47 million monthly in revenue collection due to illegal connections of water and meter tampering, translating to K564 million annually.
“This is enough to connect water supply to about 8 800 new clients annually and about 733 monthly,” said BWB public affairs officer Priscilla Mateyu.
Mateyu said that quarterly, the board detects about 48 illegal connections which affect the delivery of its services to residents.