Libuyu residents pay for water they don’t see

INFLATED water bills by the water utility company in Livingstone’s oldest compound Libuyu has become a source of worry as residents continue to receive bills for water they do not use. The residents complained that they had access to water for 3-4 hours a day but wondered why they were billed so much money when the taps were always dry. Lizzy Phiri, a resident of Libuyu compound, said that they could not afford the situation as it was unbearable. Ms Phiri explained that Libuyu compound was one of oldest compounds in Livingstone but that up to now there was no proper sanitation. She said that they were using initiative to pay people about K20 every two weeks to pump solid waste from their temporal toilets they were using. “Even sanitation here had been poor because we do not have toilets, the only thing people do was to use buckets to empty and pump solid waste every after two weeks so that we could use the same makeshifts toilets, and our fear is this coming rain season,” she said. Residents had continued to experience shortages of water, sometimes for the whole day or received drops of it which could not last for a long time. “We receive the exaggerated water bills here of about K200-K400 per month when we do not even use water because most of the times are without water. ‘‘We are appealing to the water utility company to revisit their system so that they could not affect the communities,”she said. Another resident Brighton Siadunka said they wanted prepaid water taps because fixed  water bills were expensive because they had lived without water for a long time. “Whether we use water or not we still have to pay a K95, but maybe in a month we use half of it; the rest is not accounted for because we have serious water blues here,” he said. The residents’ concerns came to light when a Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) team visited some communities in Livingstone to ensure people enjoyed their social rights. The JCTR has taken the step to ensure communities’ social and cultural rights were addressed. And JCTR outreach officer in Livingstone George Makaha said it was unacceptable that the people of Libuyu and others in communities were subjected to such inconveniences more than 50 years after independence. Mr Makaha said Libuyu had a problem of poor sanitation and was one of the compounds that had had no proper toilets since 1940. He said most of the people there were using their own initiative to answer the call of nature. “We have a big problem that is why JCTR has taken interest in ensuring that the area is a focus in terms of sanitation and also to ensure the duty bearers fulfilled their responsibilities,” he said. He said his organisation would liaise with the Livingstone City Council and also the Southern Water and Sewerage Company to improve the living standards of the people in the community. Mr Makaha observed that wasted water from the leaking pipes had also contributed to the rise in water bills and that had pushed pressure on the communities to pay more than expected. “The relevant authority must sit down and see what it can do about these leakages because if these people have water which means it will have low pressure or no water completely,” he said.