The utility company halted disconnections during the lockdown to maintain a constant flow of water at a time when Ugandans were asked to stay at home and keep Coronavirus Disease at bay. The constant supply of water was paramount to encourage handwashing, one of the measures fronted for the control of the contagion.
According to a report obtained from the National Water and Sewerage Corporation branch in Luweero district, about 235,816,000 litres of water were used between March to June 30, a time when the country was in total lockdown.
The report shows that water bills amounting to 857 million shillings including arrears accumulated before the lockdown remain unpaid by residents and institutions in the areas of Zirobwe, Wobulenzi, Bombo, Nakasongola and Luweero town councils. National Water and Sewerage Corporation had only collected 218 million Shillings from water bills issued during the period by June 30.
National Water and Sewerage Corporation Luweero Branch Manager Ronald Kisakye says that they are drawing up a plan which will involve approaching each client to agree on a payment plan to recover the money within the next few months.
Kisakye explains that the Corporation’s planned expansion works in sub-counties of Zirobwe, Butuntumula, Kalagala which were supposed to be completed by June 30 stalled over a decline in revenue collections. The works, according to Kisakye, have been re-prioritized in the new financial year.
Asuman Kaaya, a resident of Binyonyi zone in Luweero town says that it has been difficult to pay for water bills at a time when they had no source of income. Jimmy Kizito a bodaboda rider says that he accumulated a water bill of 120,000 Shillings which he is unable to clear until the ban on their operations is lifted.
Sam Mulwana, the Director of Africa Guesthouse in Luweero town asked the government to scrap off Value Added Tax and Service Fee from such utilities, to bring their cost down and avoid compromising the health of water consumers.
Luweero LC III Chairperson Paul Mukungu has asked the government to consider a recent resolution through which Parliament asked the government to waive the payment of water and electricity bills from March to September this year, for persons affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Mukungu says that many people’s businesses collapsed and are struggling to survive.
Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the government is searching for a vote through which the Parliamentary resolution would be effected.