Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has decried increased cases of theft of pre-paid and post-paid water meters, saying the situation burdens customers because they have to bear the cost of replacement.
In an interview on Sunday, BWB public relations officer Evelyn Khonje said the most affected areas include Chilomoni, Ndirande, Machinjiri, Nancholi, Mbayani and Che Musa townships.
She said: “These thefts do not only cause water disruptions and inconvenience Blantyre Water Board customers, but are also a burden to our customers who bear the costs of meter replacement.
“The board is losing a lot of water through these thefts and incurring huge costs to procure new water meters. On average, the board is receiving 10 to 15 reports of stolen meters every month.”
Khonje said BWB is working in collaboration with the Malawi Police Service to curb the vice.
On Sunday morning, communities in Che Musa caught a man who was attempting to steal a water meter at one of the water kiosks in the township.
Kabula Water Users Association administrator Mwayi Nyirongo said police are questioning the suspect to understand whether he was working alone or with his accomplices.
“We moved around the area and found that many households have their meters stolen. The police are now moving around in the area to find his accomplices,” she said.
Blantyre Police Station spokesperson Peter Mchiza said they are still investigating to find out the extent of water meter thefts in the city.
In a statement, BWB condemned the criminal acts which the utility says are a setback to service delivery.
Reads the statement: “The board is appealing to the general public to desist from stealing any of its property such as water meters, pipes and associated fittings. Perpetrators will be arrested and prosecuted.
“The arrests will include even those stealing water through illegal connections or self-connections.”
BWB supplies water to about 1.4 million people within its supply area, which includes Blantyre city and other areas such as Bvumbwe in Thyolo, Chileka, Lunzu, Chiradzulu, Limbe and Mapanga.