The National Water Resources Authority (NWRA) a body mandated to administer and manage all water resources in Malawi is under-collecting money realised from ground water Malawi News understands.
Water experts believe that the Malawi government could have been collecting approximately K210 million a year if the body had in the past years put in place levies for users of ground water for Industrial use.
It is believed that many companies have been diverting water for industrial and domestic use without paying anything
The Water Act provides that users of ground water for industrial use should pay levies to government but since its enactment in 2013, little has been realised.
Section 68 of the Act states: “No one is supposed to drill boreholes without a permit being granted by the NWRA…No person shall abstract and use water unless Authorized, any person who abstract water shall apply to the authority and have a license, application for ground water is $4.1 and $6.80 for water discharged.”
According to the Act, all those diverting water from rivers, all those using dams also have to pay.
Spokesperson for the water body Peter Banda, in an interview during the week admitted there is room for improvement, adding the water body has reviewed and approved the use of water tariffs to big companies that are using ground water.
“The majority of these institutions which include Illovo, Malawi Mangoes and water boards are paying annual water rentals; it is not true that since the enactment of the Water Resources Act in 2013 none of the big institutions has ever paid water charges fees.
For your information, during the eleventh board meeting of the NRWA held on September 29, 2022 over 180 applications for groundwater were approved (boreholes),” he said.
According to Banda, so far the body has collected in excess of K100 million since the laws came to use, which water experts still opine that is little.
We gather, however, that since its enactment in 2013, this is the first time the water body has enforced the law.
One of the water experts Professor Wapulumuka Oliver Mulwafu of Mzuzu University said it is high time Malawi benefitted from its abundant water resources.
He challenged the water authority to ensure big companies that are using ground water adhere to government policies, for example, through payment of the needed tariffs .
“The money that can be collected from ground water tariffs can be used for providing social services to Malawians, Na we hope that the NRWA will take the matter seriously and enforce the laws as it should be the case,” he said.
Economist Betchani Tcheleni said it is an inherent issue in Malawi where enforcement of the law is regarded as projects, not as a day-today activity.
He said: “You will note that apart from the laxities in the water, there are issues everywhere, be it traffic issues, labour, electricity connections etc. It is an issue of ‘who is responsible’ and when they don’t do their work what do we do. People must start to personally be liable for not enforcing the law because they know it is costing the country a lot of resources in uncollected fees.”
The country’s water legislation further provides for rents or tarrifs for water abstraction.