The National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) is again offering amnesty to about 42, 000 disconnected customers in Kampala metropolitan region due to accumulated bills to revert back to the water grid.
NWSC first offered amnesty to customers who had been disconnected for over three months in 2018.
The main objective of the campaign is to increase access to safe water by following up on those customers that have been disconnected from the NWSC supply for over three months due to non-payment of bills or illegal use of water.
The campaign provides the customers flexible payment options once they are willing and ready to get back onto NWSC supply.
The Water Corporation is waving off reconnection fees and flexible repayment terms. For instance, one doesn’t have repay all the arrears at ago.
Mr Sam Apedel, the NWSC Public Relations Manager, has said the disconnected customers that wish to be provided water again will sign Agreement to Pay Arrears (APAs).
Mr Apedel says the amnesty is intend to stop illegal use of water. “Giving amnesty to those with illegal connections will regularize usage of our water,” he said.
NWSC wants to recover about 23 billion shillings as a result of the arrears. Kampala metropolitan (Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono) has about 348,000 customers. And on average 2500 connections are added on the water grid monthly.
However, payments for water bills has been problematic of some of the customers. This why NWSC is also introducing pre-paid meters for domestic use.
The prototype of the pre-paid meter was designed by the NWSC technicians. So far proof of concept is done.
According to Mr Apedel, the pre-paid meters will provide an easier way of payment although they are expensive to procure and installed. The publicist estimates at a pre-paid meter costs atleast $1000. And one for domestic use cost about $200.
NWSC has in the past provided 1600 pre-paid meters to ministries and government agencies and communities of 20 to 30 people.
NWSC has meanwhile ordered all public taps reconnect unconditionally to provide water to communities.
In 2018, NWSC also offered flexible arrears payment options to the customers, waived reconnection fees for the customers willing to come back on supply and free meter provided for customers getting back on supply.
Through a campaign dubbed ‘Come We Talk’ or Tangu Twogere’, the water utility expected more than 30,000 customers to get back on the NWSC supply through this drive.
Others are amnesty period for up to six months for customers who willingly report illegal water connections at their property and waiving of service charges for the customers who had been off supply for over a year and above upon expressing interest on coming back on supply.
According to its five-year strategic plan, NWSC wantd to achieve 100 percent coverage by 2021. In the last five years, the water utility has set off major infrastructure development and network expansion projects, with more than 1,000 kilometres of pipes laid per annum.
To match the growing demand for Kampala Water area, NWSC has done major refurbishments on the Ggaba water treatment plant to boost both its supply capacity from 120million to 240million litres per day.
In a bid to regain their 100 per cent revenue collections, the NWSC senior managers have reviewed the utility’s five-year strategic direction to deal with the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With limited staff movement and observation of SOPs since the lockdown, NWSC’s billing dropped from Shs 38 billion to Shs 34 billion per month. NWSC revenues suffered after the closure of schools and higher education institutions due to Covid-19.
While their collections dropped to 50 per cent during the lockdown last year. Also, the corporation’s water extension and new projects’ constriction work slowed down. Overall, the aforementioned factors have affected the utility in terms of revenues and performance.