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Govt wants prepaid water metres installed as residents refuse to pay

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs deputy minister Parks Tau said the bulk of water losses were as a result of damaged infrastructure.

FILE: Parks Tau. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Government has had enough of South Africans who refuse to pay for water and wants prepaid water metres installed in municipalities.

The matter has been discussed at a joint meeting of the portfolio committees on human settlements, water and sanitation and cooperative governance and traditional affairs on Tuesday.

Members of Parliament were being briefed by an inter-ministerial task team established in 2017 to deal with municipalities’ non-payment for electricity.

Later, the scope was extended to include the non-payment of water bills.

MPs have heard how residents and municipalities owe billions in unpaid water bills.

However, cooperative governance and traditional affairs deputy minister Parks Tau said the bulk of water losses were as a result of damaged infrastructure.

He said to plug other revenue losses, a prepaid system had to be considered if government was to get consumers to pay.

“Some of the statements that are being made in the presentations say instead of post-paid connection, why don’t we move to a prepaid system where people are able to get tokens to be able to purchase water; and we’re able to deal with the issue of people paying for water that they consume.”

MPs have called for tougher action against people who are not paying up.

The Democratic Alliance's Leonard Basson said: “They must act on behalf of the government that gave them that responsibility and if they cannot do it, it must be taken away from them. So, don’t come and tell us government is owing money, you cut them off. If people are owing the municipalities, you cut them off.”

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