We implore CFTC to probe the water rate hike
We find the secret increase of water tariffs by water boards across the country unbecoming.
For three months, we learn, consumers have unknowingly been paying more for water while consumption remained constant. What has baffled us is that the boards had the audacity of conniving and secretly increasing the price of water for domestic use by 15 percent and for commercial use by 20 percent.
For those who use prepaid meters in Blantyre, the increase in meter rentals is almost 100 percent – from K582.50 and K349.50 to K1,165 and K932, respectively.
Households that used to pay an average of K7, 000 per month are now paying about K19, 000.
We checked with a household that consumed10 cubic metres of water in June and paid K4, 776.50, only to pay K5,475.50 for the same volume in September.
Of course, we learn from insiders that this came about because of the wrangle that has emerged between the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development and the Treasury. What we are not clear about, and what we are not being told, is; who has the final say to endorse a water tariff increment?
Is it the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development or Treasury?
While we debate that, we want to explore the morality behind hiking the water rates to unsuspecting consumers who are already battered by high prices of food, escalating school fees and, of course, a consumer who is already waiting for an inevitable increase in electricity tariffs the moment generators are planted in the major cities.
All this is happening when most companies are failing to effect wage increments for their workers because, among other things, the electricity crisis has eaten into their margins, as it were.
We find the conduct by the water boards illegal, to say the least.
From what we know, such practice is against Section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act which clearly states that it’s mandatory for service providers to provide consumers with true, sufficient, clear and timely information on the services they offer.
This is the reason why we are so happy that the Competition and Fair Trading Commission is reviewing complaints from various consumers about the secret price hike.
We implore them to get the bottom of it, find out why it had to be a secret and who approved the increase between the Minister of Agriculture and Water Development and the Treasury led by Ben Botolo.
We also want to take this opportunity to question the existence of the Consumers Association of Malawi who have decided to feign ignorance on the matter and keep quiet.
We implore the government to act and demand answers from the boards for making decisions which they cannot justify.
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