Barely a week after announcing the introduction of K8 500 sewer service fees for households connected to the public sewerage system, Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) has temporarily suspended implementation “due to unforseen challenges with the billing system”.
The board’s spokesperson Chisomo Chibwana said in a written response yesterday that the service fee roll-out has been halted due to challenges which include the billing of clients who are not yet connected to the sewerage management system.
She said the water board will credit accounts of all customers billed for the sewer service charge until the problem is rectified.
Said Chibwana: “As of today, 6th November 2023, the board has suspended billing of sewer customers following unforeseen challenges encountered in the billing system.
“The newly configured system, which is configured to accommodate the sewer charge, inadvertently billed some customers outside of the connected areas. LWB has, therefore, temporarily suspended sewer customers billing to work on reconfiguration of the billing system.”
But she said the development will not disrupt sewer service provision to all sewer-connected customers.
Chibwana said LWB took over the sewer service management from the Lilongwe City Council with effect from October 1 2023.
She said: “This transfer of services is in accordance with the mandate outlined in the Water Works Act [Cap. 72:01] Section 26 which directs all water boards to construct and maintain public sewers within their designated water supply areas.”
LWB has about 8 400 customers connected to the sewer line.
The customers, according to LWB, include those newly-connected in Area 47 Sectors 3 and 4, Area 49 Old and New Gulliver and New Shire, and those already connected to the sewer line in Area 18, part of Falls (Area 1), part of Area 2, part of Area 3 and Area 4, Area 33, City Centre, Capital Hill, Area 29 and Lumbadzi.
Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) has condemned LWB for introducing the service charge without adequate consultation with clients.
In a statement dated November 6 2023, Cama executive director John Kapito also said there was need for LWB to detach the sewer bill from the water bill.
To date, only LWB has announced introduction of a service charge following the provision in the Water Works Act and accompanying by-laws in the Malawi Government Gazette Supplement of July 28 2023 under the Local Government Act for water boards to take over sewer system management from city councils.