Some water boards could be stealing from us: Part 2


I finished three buckets of water I had stored during this time (December 24 last year to April 2 this year, translating into three months without using water from the board).

However, when two of the buckets ran out of water— which I was using for cooking and drinking only— I refilled them with rain water. I still have the rain water in the buckets.

Now, the way things work with water boards, this means I was supposed to be paying “meter rental charge”, pegged at K1,000, and “Meter Reading Charge”, billed at K800, and for nothing else.


But, then, the ‘mistake’ I made was to pay for the water in advance. I always pay for the water in advance. In December last year, before the water stopped flowing through my taps because a child had played with the key at the meter, I had paid K20,000 in advance.

Normally, I pay K13,000 or so in advance. After all, I do not use too much water because I stay alone.

Now, let me go to the point that has prompted me to claim that some water boards could be stealing from us, resource-poor consumers.


Despite that I have not had a drop of water since December 24 last year, I have been charged K1,520 under ‘Water Charge, Consumption’ every month. When I got the receipt dated January 5 this year, I was charged K1,520. I understood the charge because I had used water in December, before it stopped flowing in my taps on December 24 last year.

However, when I got the bill for February, which I received on a receipt dated February 10, I was also charged K1,520 as ‘Water Charge, Consumption” [as they put it on the receipt]. I jokingly told the people in the compound that someone was ‘stealing’ from me through fake water bills. They did not understand me.

Then I got a receipt dated April 7, 2023, which is the bill for March basically because this month [April] has not come to an end. And what is the bill? I will come to that later. I just want to say, when the owner of the house I stay in was giving me the receipt, the words that were said are: “Achimwene, tsopano ndakumvetsani zimene mumanena zija. Mumanena zoona za ma bill zija. Bill yanga ili bwino bwino, koma yanu. Mmmm. Ndayang’ana pa meter po. Zosiyana [I have now understood you on the issue of water consumption charge. The meter readings and bill do not tally. My bill and meter readings are okay].

I can now say how much I have been billed. “Meter Rental Charge: K1,000”. “Meter Reading Charge: K800”. “Water Charge, Consumption: K1,520”.

Well, I find this to be unfair.

How, then, can I trust the bill charges now that, having realised that I am charged for water I have not even used, I have re-opened the key on April 2 this month?

Yes, I and the land and house owner’s son opened the key at the meter together on April 2. I do not know what my bill will be this month end but I know that what has been happening is unfair.

I know that the problem of non-revenue water (NRW) has been affecting water boards in the country. NRW is water that has been produced and is lost before it reaches the customer either through leaks, theft or metering inaccuracies; and is one of the major problems the five water utilities in Malawi are facing on a daily basis.

However, this does not justify the practice of charging someone for water they never used.

I know that the one who has been charging me did not know that I decided not to reopen the key at the meter when a child touched it back in December.

This should not be happening, especially when some water boards have been responsible enough to be conducting Integrity Testing Training Workshops after establishing Institution Integrity Committees.

Which brings me to my last point; integrity is everything.

That is why the government directed that every government institution must have an integrity committee.

Maybe this news has not reached some workers. Anyway, this month end, considering that Balance Brought Forward was K4,269, I have to go and pay K20,000 again, whether I get charged for using the water or not.

This, Dear Pain, is the pain of living in Malawi.

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