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Malawi Defence Force owes Water Board K1 billion

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LILONGWE Water Board (LWB) has said the Malawi Defense Force (MDF) owes the water utility a staggering K1 billion for one year alone and accused the country’s top security organisation of wastefulness.

LWB General Manager, Alfonso Chikuni, said this on Wednesday when he appeared before a joint parliamentary committee of Public Accounts (Pac), Agriculture, Irrigation and Water and Budget and Finance.

“They owe us K1 billion in water bills from July 2016 to June 2017. People there don’t care. They grow mondokwa (green maize) in October,” Chikuni said.

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Chikuni was called to Parliament by the committees to explain the status of President Peter Mutharika’s signature water project, the $435 million Lake Malawi Water Project.

Chikuni emphasised that water in the country was not as expensive as people say, saying free water is always abused.

He said MDF abuses the water because Treasury pays for them.

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Chikuni said 10 percent of its water in Lilongwe goes to the MDF yet payment is always a problem as the government takes almost a year before clearing its water bills in government institutions.

He, however, could not say how much all the government institutions owe LWB in water bills but described it as a substantial amount.

Chikuni said next month, the board will roll out installation of prepaid meters in all government institutions, saying they are the culprits in non- payment of water bills.

“Very soon, actually next month, we are starting the installation of prepaid water meters and we will start with MDF then Ministry of Health,” Chikuni said.

Just a week ago, LWB disconnected water at the magnificent Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe for non-payment of water bills amounting to K69 million.

In a related development, Chikuni told the parliamentarians that the board continues to pay K10 million to MDF soldiers who are guarding Dzalanyama Forest.

He said although it is not the mandate of LWB to care for forests, it is forced to pay for the protection of the forest because it is a watershed for Lilongwe and surrounding areas.

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