Zimbabwean capital city says customers own 13.8 billion ZWL amid complaints of poor services

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A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo - RTX2CZDI

Harare City Council said Wednesday that its customers owed it more than 13.8 billion Zimbabwean dollars (ZWL), a situation it says is compromising service delivery in the Zimbabwean capital.

“Harare City is owed 13.8 billion by its various customers. Failure to pay the debts has compromised service delivery,” the council said in a Facebook post.

The statement came amid rising complaints from businesses and residents that the city fails to provide essential services, with refuse at times taking weeks to be collected while responses to water faults are also taking long.

Harare City Council is supposed to collect garbage once a week in residential areas and daily in the central business district.

Some residential areas have gone without tap water for years and city roads fall into disrepair, with some sections full of potholes.

The city council gave a breakdown of the debtors, with domestic consumers topping the list at nearly 5.2 billion ZWL, followed by commercial customers with about 3.9 billion ZWL.

Third on the list is industry, which owes about 2.3 billion ZWL, followed by the government with nearly 508 million ZWL.

At the current exchange rate of 1 U.S. dollar to 93 ZWL, the total amount owed is about 148 million U.S. dollars.

Observers say many businesses and residents are struggling to settle their dues because of impediments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are some who are habitual defaulters.

The council blames its customers for the poor service delivery, accusing them of failing to settle their dues.

However, many of the customers argue that they cannot pay for services that are not being rendered. Enditem

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