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MP questions Escom, water boards’ billing

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Member of Parliament for Balaka North, Lucius Banda, has accused water boards in the country of just guessing water bills for their customers.

In Parliament on Friday, Banda asked if the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development is aware that water boards’ meter readers stopped working and the boards are using mere estimations to determine water bills instead of the traditional physical checks of meters.

Banda, who provided an example of Balaka, where Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) operates, said the situation has resulted in the production of water bills that do not reflect the amount of water customers may have used in the course of the month.

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“The unfortunate part with these bodies like water boards and Escom [Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi] they are the only ones supplying those utilities and we cannot run away from them. We cannot tell them that we will not work with them anymore. They know that they have no competition and they take advantage. Sometimes they just tell you that you could be having some leakages and you are forced to pay that bill,” Banda said.

He then proposed the establishment of a body that will be responsible for customers’ complaints, saying complaining using the same water boards structure does not help.

“It is a waste of time for the customer who is complaining about an exaggerated bill from water board to go to the same water board and complain. It does not make any sense. We need a body that should be looking into these issues,” Banda said.

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Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Samuel Tembenu, who was responding to questions going to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Development at the time Banda posed the question, promised to provide a response after consulting relevant officials within the ministry.

Southern Region Water Board spokesperson Macdonald Phiri asked for more time to consult the board’s officials in Balaka.

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