Water boards consult on prepaid billing meters

Water boards consult on prepaid billing meters

The country’s five water boards are meeting prepaid billing meters manufacturers from China in a bid to address the gadgets’ challenges that have purportedly made some of the boards incur losses.

Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) chief executive officer Francis Munthali and his Blantyre Water Board (BWB) counterpart Robert Hanjahanja confirmed in separate interviews on Wednesday that the team arrived on Tuesday for the periodical assessment.

Munthali, who is also Water Services Association of Malawi (Wasama) president, said they will utilise the meetings with the manufacturers to ask for meters with durable batteries as a solution to frequent reports of malfunctioning.

He said the main challenge with prepaid meters, which have a one year warranty, is the battery lifespan which averages two years instead of the designed seven years.

Said Munthali: “Most domestic customers do not buy water units in bulk. As a result, the meter battery exhausts more energy from regular switching on and off. Customers then start using free water and most do not report the faults.

“We have presented the battery challenges before and we expect that the new meters will be made with more lasting battery life. Our perception during transitioning was that we would pay less attention to prepaid meters but clearly a lot is happening to these gadgets.”

He further disclosed that as NRWB, they are contemplating developing a policy in future which would state that customers who use meters more frequently should bear the cost of battery replacement.

On his part, Hanjahanja, who refused to comment on the agenda of the meeting with the manufacturers, said they have developed a strategy to recover most of the K9 billion revenue lost due to faulty meters.

He said: “So long as you are a metered customer, whether you pay now or later, we know how much you have consumed even if you tamper with the metre. But what we have found, especially for domestic customers, is that because of the accumulation, most cannot afford to pay.”

Lilongwe Water Board chief executive officer Sili Mbewe was not immediately available for comment.

But Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito in an interview on Wednesday said all water boards should organise focus group discussions with customers to appreciate the challenges they are facing with prepaid meters.

Earlier this year, BWB announced plans to replace prepaid billing meters with post-paid ones due to increased frequency of malfunctioning and losses.

The post Water boards consult on prepaid billing meters first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Water boards consult on prepaid billing meters appeared first on Nation Online.