NKURENKURU – The Nkurenkuru Town Council wants government to step up with a plan to rescue local authorities with some form of subsidy on operational costs, as councils face a drastic reduction in revenue collection due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Town councils and municipalities are struggling to collect rates and taxes due to them because of the ongoing national lockdown. Government last month also ordered all local authorities to reconnect water supply to households whose accounts had been suspended due to non-payment.
Nkurenkuru CEO Petrus Sindimba said they have reconnected about 37 households who have a combined outstanding debt of over N$400 000.
“All residents whose water supply was disconnected have been reconnected already in compliance with the directive. Their debt will remain on their account and they will be expected to pay off this debt or make arrangement with the council after the state of emergency is lifted. Failure to that, their water will be disconnected again, but council wants residents to pay their debts and have running water always,” Sindimba said.
According to the CEO, residents are using water but are not paying for the service. “Some residents are no longer coming forth to pay their municipal bills. If this situation continues for the next month, our institution will not be able to operate effectively hence the need for a subsidy. There is no revenue coming forth to council; residents’ debts are increasing and so are other municipal rates and taxes: basic charges, refuse and sewerage are also not being paid for,” Sindimba said.
Despite being classified as an essential service, the town council has downscaled on its operations during the period of the lockdown, including face-to-face enquiries. “Clients are allowed on the council’s premises only for the purpose of payment for their bills at the cashier but the number will be limited to five at a time while observing social distancing. During this critical period, employees and residents are urged to be calm and provide their cooperation and not to panic while following the precautionary measures as advised by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the World Health Organisation,” he said.