If you have been following the news then you know that “hikes” has been trending lately. Goods and services price hikes have become a thematic feature of the Zimbabwean economy. Whereas fuel and mobile services had settled perfectly into the realm of regular prices reviews more items are joining the flow. ZUPCO which have been (and are still a huge transport relief) recently raised their standard fares by 100%. We are also still in the freshness of the recent electricity tariffs upward reviews by margins of over 200%. As if that is not enough, ZINWA, the water utility company, has hiked water tariffs by over 400%.

ZINWA Hikes Water Tariffs

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has also joined the latest list of utility companies to enact tariff hikes. In comparison to the others, they seem to currently be leading the pack because their tariff hikes are the steepest – by at least 400%. The water utility company has justified its move by bemoaning the ever-increasing cost of chemicals for treating water plus another routine, repair and maintenance works and more. Interestingly, it has been 7 years since ZINWA hiked its tariffs; this is also somewhat similar to ZESA which had also not had tariff hike requests approved in years. ZINWA got approval to hike the tariffs by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement.

Some Details Of The Hike

The tariffs have been reviewed from ZWL$0.80 to ZWL$3.42 for a water volume of 5 cubic metres. This is for people residing in high-density areas and that constitutes a 328% hike. This has been approved to ensure a healthy correlation between the cost and availability of the needed resources. The approval was premised on the ZINWA Act i.e. Chapter 20:25 in particular.

A Brief Note Of History

About 13 years ago ZINWA was approved to oversee everything to do with water and sewer issues across the nation. This arrangement did not last for long owing to the fact that local authorities were heavily opposed to it. Following incessant protests, the arrangement, which had been green-lighted by the government, was done away with. This means local authorities still oversee water and sewer issues but with the exception of Gwanda where some local authorities are still under ZINWA. I mention this to put things into perspective for my next talking point.

Local Authorities Also Want To Follow Suit

Now that ZINWA has hiked its tariffs, local authorities are proposing that their water tariffs be hiked also. The only major difference is that their proposed hike margins are much steeper than ZINWA’s. For example, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) wants to increase its tariffs by close to 700%. It wants the proposed tariff hike to be rolled out in the next 4 months starting now. Their rationale behind the proposal is two-tier namely, steep costs of chemicals required for treating water and the volatile operating environment.

ZINWA Incorporates A Social Safety Net In Their New Tariff Structure

In their quest to consider and cushion vulnerable members of society, ZINWA has put in place exceptions in that regard. For instance, senior citizens, the differently-abled and families headed by children shall enjoy a special tariff for the initial 5000 litres of water that they will use in a month. Just like what ZESA has done with stepped tariffs, ZINWA tariffs will also be more costly for heavy consumers. This has been made so to promote responsible and efficient consumption of water.

The same issues have been cited by most utilities which have recently hiked their tariffs. The major overall issue being cited is the mercurial state of the economy which is making things tougher by the day. Sadly, most of the actions are attacking the symptoms of problems which in the process is feeding the problems. The culmination of all these tariffs hikes are taking a huge and unbearable toll on many vulnerable Zimbabweans. This is exacerbated by largely static incomes amidst skyrocketing costs of living.