By Justin Mkweu
Blantyre Water Board (BWB) is seeking a rescue package from the government and other stakeholders to settle an Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) power bill that is hovering at K24 billion.
This was revealed yesterday during the entity’s strategic plan launch for 2020-25 in Blantyre.
Speaking at the event, BWB Chairperson George Nnesa said the bill had been rising and the only solution was a bailout because their revenue collection totals were lower than the wage bill.
“The bailout that we need is specifically for paying bills at Escom because we owe them about K24 billion, which has accumulated over the past two years. As such, we have asked the government to bail us out because we cannot manage to pay,” he said.
According to statistics presented at the event, BWB collects K1.5 billion monthly but spends K1.2 billion on Escom bills.
In the strategic plan, BWB plans to substitute Escom power with solar energy, a plan which the government has nodded to.
Apart from energy, the five-year strategic plan aims at infrastructure growth and business continuity, financial growth and sustainability, customer and stakeholder satisfaction and capacity development and productivity.
Forestry and Natural Resources Minister Nancy Tembo said BWB’s situation was understandable.
“It is a fact that they have huge electricity bills but it is up to the Ministry of Finance and what we, on our part, are doing is to see how they can reduce these monthly bills by looking at ways such as reduction of non-revenue water,” he said.
BWB serves 1.2 million customers and has over 69 connections in Blantyre and surrounding districts.
From November 1 this year, water boards across the country effected a water tariff increase at an average of 52 percent.
The highest increase was effected by Central Region Water Board, which increased the tariff by 65 percent while BWB raised it by 40 percent.
Before the November tariff hike, the last time the boards raised tariffs was in 2018.