Beira: Customers forced to pay 7,000 to 12,000 meticais water bills for no supply

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Nearly ten residents of the Manganhe-1 area, in Beira city’s Macurungo expansion neighborhood, say they are disgusted with the Water Supply Investments and Assets Fund (FIPAG), which has issued invoices ranging from 7,000 to 12,000 meticais for the period 2015-2017 during which time they say they did not see a single drop of water issuing from their taps.

A Diario de Moçambique reporter toured the area where residents had just received notifications from FIPAG on Friday and found an atmosphere thick with complaints and questioning on the reason for being asked to pay for something that was not supplied during the two years in question.

Officially, water connections in the Manganhe-1 area and the surrounding area were made in 2015. At the time it was agreed between the parties that, even without meters, each customer should pay a fixed fee of 151.00 meticais per month.

But interviewees said that, because of low pressure, water never flowed from taps from 2015 to December 2016, especially in the upper (west) part of Rua 2009. Families were forced to resort to alternative means to quench their thirst.

“We were getting water from the Matacuane neighborhood, which came to our aid when there was no water in our houses taps. Every day, we had to go queue at taps there,” one of our interviewees, Isabel Chimoio, said, demanding to know why she was being charged exorbitantly for something she had not received.

“After two years of living practically in a jam, water is only now starting to flow and straight away FIPAG sent us these huge bills for us to pay. Why should we pay, when all these years we were without water? And, even then, it was only in 2017 that they put in the water meters. What criteria were used to decide on this amount? Isabel Chimoio asked, displaying her bill for 9,917.08 meticais.

Even with the recent setting of meters and an increase in pressure, having water in the taps of remains a major problem for Manganhe-1 residents.

In search of greater pressure, residents are forced to dig pits at the ends of the pipes that connect the taps, something that requires great care in order not to contaminate the water.

“Practically, water [only] runs until 8:00 a.m.. These bills do not make sense. It is a poor service provided by FIPAG and they still charge us a lot of money,” said a young woman who preferred to remain anonymous.

Simply deplorable

Marques José, another interviewee, considered FIPAG attitude to be sad and pitiful. “It’s charging me 7,132.32 meticals, while since 2015 there was no water. I went to FIPAG and they told me that, of this amount, I could pay three thousand and something and the rest I could let go [not pay]. I do not understand this,” said Marques, adding that it does not make sense for FIPAG to issue invoices and even court warnings for something that customers did not consume.

In fact most of the customers in that area had been honoring their commitment and paying the 151 meticais per month agreed, even without water. The surprise came when, after the first few drops of water flowed, FIPAG issued the large bills.

Sofia Saíde, another interviewee, has a bill of 9,954.62 meticais. She said she did not understand the reasons behind the application of a rate that far exceeded the agreed amount.

“They turned the water on here three years ago, but it only started to flow in January 2017. Sometimes it was possible to get water on the street, but here at home, because of the weak pressure, it never arrived. I am aware that this is an invoice and must be paid, but I demand clear explanations, because in my house I have never had any such consumption,” said Sofia Said.

Secretary of the unit speaks of lack of sensitivity

Yesterday, Diário de Moçambique paid a second visit to the Manganhe-1 area and interviewed the secretary of communal unit D, Chicua Frank Jose Miranda, who deplored the lack of sensitivity demonstrated by FIPAG in the matter.

She said that ten or more customers in the area had received invoices that in no way corresponded to their actual consumption. “Since last year, I have had no water in my house, but today I was surprised by an invoice for 6,999.00 meticais. For what? This situation is worrying many families here in Manganhe,” a visibly annoyed Chicua said. “I was supposed to pay 415.00 meticals, but now they have charged me this whole amount. We demand an explanation from FIPAG,” he said.

Our reporter also spoke to Alda Francisco, Juliana Victor, Marta Augusto and a young man who works as a guard at one of the residences and preferred to remain anonymous. During the conversation the feeling of anguish and disgust was visible on the faces of our interviewees. “We got two bills at home. One last month and another this month. All with different values, ranging from seven to eight thousand meticais. I do not understand, because the water only started to come out on taps this year,” Marta Augusto complained.

Source: Diário de Moçambique

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