Unpaid water bills take toll on Rwandan firms

Saturday May 2 2020

WASAC

Water operators stand to lose millions of francs in revenues, and struggle to keep service running due to accumulating unpaid bills. PHOTO | CYRILl NDENGEYA 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Water suppliers stand to lose millions of francs in revenues as they struggle to keep service running due to accumulating unpaid bills by household and businesses.

The ongoing lockdown that was announed by the government a month ago contain spread of coronavirus had seen water companies activate electronic payment systems to minimise potential revenue shortfall but statistics point to a sharp decline in revenues collections as more bills go unpaid.

A section of the operators said that without government intervention, the trend could leave water companies financially constrained, making it difficult to keep water supply systems operational.

The Water and Sanitation Corporation, the national water utility company for instance indicate that revenues declined by almost a half from Rwf2 billion per month.

“Apparently the collections are too low. We are sensitising users why it is important to pay to enable us to keep service running.

If the trend remains unchanged, measures will be taken at the company level in consultation with the board and shareholders after a deep analysis,” said James Mwijukye, WASAC director of commercial services.

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Private water companies, most of whom have bill arrears in their record, said revenues for March reduced by more than 60 per cent, and are expected to further decline in April.

Like WASAC, private water companies are not allowed to disconnect users for nonpayment of water bills during the coronavirus crisis when handwashing and general hygiene is emphasised as key to keeping the virus at bay.

“All bills have been sent but customers are unable to pay because none is working yet we need to make sure that water services run uninterrupted.

Where do we get alternative funding? That’s the dilemma we are in now,” said Joseph Usabimana, manager at Aquavirunga Ltd.

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