Blantyre Water Board (BWB) is hopeful that the new prepaid system will enhance revenue collection for the body which is currently owed over K1 billion (about $2.3m) in arrears.
In an interview on Thursday, BWB spokesperson, Innocent Mbvundula indicated that the board is owed a lot of money as people leave accumulated bills when they move.
Apart from that, he indicated that the new system would help to reduce human errors in the water distribution process which would consequently reduce queries of high bills from customers.
“The high bills can be attributed to high water consumption and errors in meter readings, among other things. We believe, however, that with prepaid meters such human errors will be reduced, thereby reducing the complaints. The idea is to transfer the responsibility of consumption to the customers so that they are able to plan, budget and manage their water consumption,” he said.
In the pilot phase spanning from May to July 2013, 500 customers from New Naperi and Mudi Estate in the city will be supplied with the new prepaid metres. The pilot phase alone will cost the board about K30 million (about $72 000).
He also indicated that with the prepaid system, illegal connections will be reduced as the system is set to detect any abnormalities in the system and any illegal connections will sound alarms. This will also help to reduce on revenue losses that result from the illegal connections.
He also pointed out that the board has already done sensitisations and that installations are in progress in the two areas.
“We want people to start buying water credits by May 1 2013. We have two vending stations; there is one in Blantyre at People’s Supermarket which will cater for our Naperi customers and one at our Limbe office which will cater to our Mudi Estate customers,” he said.
He assured that the tariff structure will remain the same, meaning that for the same consumption the amount of money to be paid on the prepaid system should be the same as that of post-paid.
BWB recently made an upward adjustment on water tariffs attributing it to the rising cost of delivering the water supply service to customers.