Facing growing arrears for unpaid bills of about K4 billion, the Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) has decided to transition from post-paid to prepaid billing water meters.
The move seeks to maximise revenue from water sales as almost 75 percent of total sales are said to be in arrears owed by customers.
In a document to the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, the board states that water sales volumes at 7.7 million cubic metres were eight percent above last year’s performance but 2.5 percent down on budget.
It said sales revenues were K8.1 billion which was 17 percent above last year’s performance. Operating costs were at K6.6 billion, representing 13 percent which was one percent up on last year’s performance and the budget respectively.
“The period under review was characterised by low liquidity levels. The collection efficiency was as low as 49 percent, which was the lowest ever. Low liquidity levels were a result of high default rate by customers, particularly public institutions,” reads the document.
The document also said from this month NRWB will start replacing post-paid meters with prepaid ones.
Currently, NRWB is implementing Water Efficiency Project in Mzuzu City and Ekwendeni Town which includes upgrading of Ekwendeni Water Treatment Plant capacity.
Agriculture Committee of Parliament chairperson Sameer Suleman said the arrears level, was worrisome but expressed hope that the prepaid meters will solve the challenges.
“The figures are scaring, but sadly it’s mostly public institutions that owe the board much. However, there is hope because government has directed that public institutions should also be using prepaid meters,” he said.