The Windhoek municipal council this week approved the reduction of the down-payment requirement for defaulting residential clients.
Clients in arrears are now required to pay 15% of their outstanding amount to have their services reconnected, with an extended period of up to 60 months to settle the rest.
Previously, defaulting clients were required to pay a third of their outstanding debt.
Council made this decision during the last meeting held on Tuesday afternoon.
This exercise will be in force for six months, and aims to provide relief to residents facing difficulties as a result of Covid-19.
According to acting CEO Jennifer Comalie, the debt book at the end of August this year stood at N$1.6 billion, which has become unmanageable to collect due to various challenges.
“It has prompted the department to look at other avenues to reduce the debt book. One of the strategies is to relax the current requirement as per the credit control policy, and to extend the operational hours by 2.5 hours,” she explained.
Section 13 of the arrangement of the current credit control policy states that all debtors who are in arrears and apply to make arrangements to reschedule their debt will be subject to pay one-third of arrears.
“Considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, clients are unable to meet the above requirement. Thus, the department is planning to embark on a pilot project of reducing the required one-third payment as per credit control policy to 15% to encourage clients to make payment arrangements before being disconnected or handed over to external debt collectors,” the council was informed.
Councillor Ivan Skrywer applauded the decision, saying it will be an encouragement to residents to pay their debts.
“I am happy about the decision. The disconnection of water was discouraging to the residents to pay their bills. But now I am sure the City of Windhoek will collect money through this initiative,” he added.
Councillor Queen Kamati urged fellow councillors to encourage residents to pay their debts now that the requirement is relaxed.
She said the city must focus on a communication strategy so that residents will understand and prepare to make payment arrangements.
“This information is important to the residents of Windhoek. Hence, we must disseminate it in vernacular languages so that residents will come forth to pay their debts,” Kamati added.
Former mayor Job Amupanda was excited about the approval, saying if the council can reduce the debt by at least 10% within six months, it means that the initiated model is working.