Blantyre Water Board (BWB) says faulty prepaid billing meters have been costing the water utility revenue and has since started recalling the gadgets to replace with postpaid meters.
In a statement dated January 31 2024, BWB said due to significant design flaws, it has embarked on a drive to recall prepaid meters that are currently in its system and have been affecting the board’s performance.
Reads the statement: “We are in continuous discussion with the various manufacturers, and they are in the process of improving on the design so that we can install meters that function as expected and at the desired level.”
Hanjahanja: They are not
registering correct figures
Speaking in an interview yesterday, BWB chief executive officer Robert Hanjahanja could not divulge the exact amount of revenue losses, saying it was confidential.
However, he said the meters were not registering correct figures; hence, generating significant losses.
“With these faulty meters, it is difficult to gauge a number of things. There are no credit loads, batteries are also failing and meters do not send messages to our main generation centre,” he said.
On the cost and duration of the exercise, Hanjahanja said BWB was still engaging various manufacturers to find one that can provide the best prepaid meters.
He could not give a set timeline for the work but said it would last between two months and one year.
Prepaid customers who reported battery faults on their meters were required to pay K20 000 for replacement and Hanjahanja said the board was reimbursing them with credit water.
In April 2019, the board said it was in the third phase of installing prepaid meters to its customers.
An August 2019 probe by our sister newspaper Weekend Nation uncovered that some BWB employees were cashing in on the prepaid meter project by demanding between K30 000 and K90 000 from customers.
The investigation exposed the prevalence of a syndicate of fraudulent meter installers, who mostly targeted post-paid customers with high water bills and were at risk of being disconnected.