Blantyre Water Board (BWB) is losing K47 million (US$114 355) monthly in revenue collection due to illegal water connections and meter tampering which some residents execute to evade paying legitimate bills.
Annually, the amount translates to K564 million (US$1 372 262.8) which the BWB public affairs officer Priscilla Mateyu said is enough to connect water supply to about 8 800 new clients annually and about 733 monthly.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Mateyu said the rate of the malpractice is alarming despite authorities arresting several offenders some of whom have been prosecuted by the courts and paid assorted penalties.
She said quarterly, the board detects about 48 illegal water connections, a development that is affecting smooth delivery of services to residents.
And in a statement after visiting three houses with illegal water connection with supplies to kiosks and other households for drinking, construction projects and gardening, Mateyu noted that the water was being sold at exorbitant prices.
She said: “Most illegal water connections occur in an attempt to evade paying legitimate water bills. These offenders use unscrupulous plumbers to bypass our water network system and also to tamper with the meters in order to be charging less than what’s required. However, as a board, we will make sure that these offenders pay highly for their crimes.”
Mateyu said the behaviour is deplorable as it not only cost the water body revenue, but also denies legitimate customers good quality and reliable water supply and poses health risks to residents.
She said: “The board is losing revenue and water shortages are rampant due to these illegal connections that are generally done with poor workmanship. Some offenders pass water pipes under or near latrines and resulting in water getting contaminated.”
However, Mateyu said the board is putting in place some measures to sensitise residents against such a malpractice.
According to Mateyu, offenders have been paying penalties that include K20 000 (US$49) fines.