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  • Writer's pictureMBF

Water Meters – prepaid or Conventional?

Shortly before the municipal election, there was a sudden rush to install prepaid water meters in Villiers as well. This is most probably because there was no certainty about how the new municipal council would be put together, and whether the contractors would be allowed to continue with this controversial project of R15 million.

Now that the ANC controls all 9 Mafube wards, it has apparently been decided that the project must continue and the municipal manager Mr. Josie Ralebanya issued a notice to Villiers residents and businesses, that the project would resume from 25 November. Earlier this year, the council decided to let residents and businesses choose whether they prefer prepaid or conventional meters and a period of 14 days was allowed for indicating their choices to the municipality. Mafube Business Forum (MBF) assisted several Frankfort residents and businesses and submitted requests on their behalf, forthe conventional option. However, nothing came of this and there was no response from the municipality. The problems with prepaid meters continue.

During September, a 2-page notice was published in the Frankfort Herald at high cost, which was probably sponsored by the contractors,Inzalo UMS, or the consultants, AB Projects fromKwaZulu Natal. This notice was clearly intended to try to convince residents and business owners about the benefits of prepaid meters. MBF has pointed out the disadvantages in several media statements and continue to question which parties benefit from this project which makes no sense when the municipality's financial position and inability to properly maintain existing infrastructure are taken into account.

MBF's opinion in this regard is supported by an authoritative *study which found that “Prepaid water systems are not a technical magic wand to solve underlying management issues in the supply of urban water supply. A service provider that lacks efficient management, governance and healthy customer relationships is likely to take on much more than it can handle, using prepaid systems.”

What are residents and businesses to do?

MBF recommend that when the opportunity arises for consumers (residents or businesses) to exercise their option, that conventional meters should be chosen rather than prepaid meters. Consumers can then exercise their rights in terms of section 102 of the Municipal Systems Act, if they are not satisfied with municipal service delivery - a right that is waived if water has to be paid for in advance.

*From: “The Limits and Possibilities of Prepaid Water in urban Africa: Lessons from the Field”, a report commissioned by WSP (Water Sanitation Project) and sponsored by the World Bank.

Please visit MBF today at 18A Church Street, Frankfort where we will assist you to arrange for the conventional option. You can also send an email to or a WhatsApps to 079 145 4295. In Villiers you can also visit the VQA office at 26 Emmet Street, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

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