Redcliff Council, Residents finally reach a consensus

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Simbarashe Fenton M

With relations having been strained by disparities emanating from mistrust and the blame game in terms of service provision, Redcliff Town Council engaged with its valued stakeholders in order to find a lasting solution to the water woes facing the town during a meeting held at the Townhouse recently.

During the engagement, the council and residents came to a consensus of halting the intended handover of water supply and billing to Kwekwe City Council. An agreement was also reached on a debt recovery plan with the Redcliff Town Council tasked to sit and make resolutions on the recommendations, ideas brought up by stakeholders.

Furthermore, there was a consensus reached that every household in Redcliff has to pay a USD$10 deductible from the main bill to enable the council to continue its efforts of scaling down its debt and uninterrupted water supply.

Redcliff council had introduced a temporary measure to enable Kwekwe City Council to administer the water supply. However, Residents who spoke during the meeting expressed their displeasure with this idea.

“There is no tangible material to prove and show the need for water to be handed over to Kwekwe or otherwise. The lack of a proposal confuse residents and time will be needed to understand that proposal and feasibility studies so that well-informed decisions are made,” said Ruben Mbofana.

Stakeholders reminded the council that the water challenge is not a new issue. They, however, bemoaned the gap on the issue of representation as residents feel short-changed with rumors in the media alleging that the council has reached a decision before consulting stakeholders.

“I am speaking…concerning the failure by the council to notify residents about resolutions. What has been coming out of the media and the Minister of State’s involvement, the handover of the water administration to Kwekwe City we have been hearing all that from the Media.

As far as I know, before the resolution has been adopted by the council at the townhouse, those people (residents) will be aware of what will be happening. I think that is the gap existing on this side because we feel you have short-changed us. There is nothing wrong with what has been done so far, but there is a gap on the issue of representation. I remember well that we could take people’s views to come up with a resolution, not vice versa, maybe things have changed,” said Alderman Mberi.

Redcliff Mayor Clayton Masiyatsva had suggested that the Council came up with a temporary measure while working on a long-term plan that will allow residents to have a constant supply of water.

“…we then came up with two possible solutions; one is that of getting water from Cactus Dam, but the feasibility study showed that the water could not take us beyond five years, so we set aside that idea since it was not in the best interest of the residents and the town. We had another study and came up with a resolution to look for investors and partners so that we can have our own water treatment plant taking raw water directly from Sebakwe but again it could not work.

“We owe Kwekwe City Council ZW$72.7 million as of February and the fact that only 20 percent of our residents are paying bills, means we cannot clear the debt and have water. Whilst we are trying to look for partners we thought of transferring water administrations to Kwekwe City Council as we work on a long-term plan. We then saw it prudent to engage stakeholders so that we discuss the way forward on our water issue,” said Masiyatsva.

Residents continue to pay the bigger price of ‘poor’ strategic communication from the council whose approach makes it difficult for residents to understand what is transpiring in terms of service provision within the townhouse.

Despite supply inconsistencies from Kwekwe City Council, there is a demand of ZW$500 000 per week and a hefty ZW$4 million per month from Redcliff as part of the debt clearance plan and to cater for the current bill. Residents acknowledged there is a need for the debt to be cleared, but pinpointed that strange relations between the former and council was a major reason for the lack of confidence in paying bills.

“People have lost confidence in paying their bills. What is the council then going to do to restore that confidence as people have been complaining that they are paying water they did not use?” asked Alderman Mberi.

There was also an agreement that the council and residents should convene again after two weeks for feedback on the set measures and objectives.

 

 

 


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