WINDHOEK – Many Windhoek residents were flabbergasted when they received their January water bills from City of Windhoek which in no way resembled the average monthly usage. Some residents spoken to relayed that while they were charged between N$200 and N$300 for water last year, they were left stunned when they received January water bills of over N$3 000. The City of Windhoek has since confirmed that the exorbitant billing was due to a system error.
“The month of January an error occurred and clients who submitted their readings via SMS could not be charged for actual readings but estimates. A communique was sent out to the affected clients to apologise. Surely the billing error will be rectified,” said CoW’s Manager for Corporate Communications, Harold Akwenye, in response to questions sent by New Era.
Akwenye also confirmed that a number of erroneous bills had to be written off by the CoW’s finance department, but was at pains to provide the exact figure, which he said was not forthcoming from the same department.
“I was shocked. I was upset, but I just collected my thoughts and approached the CoW to get clarity. There was no way my family and I could have used N$3 000 worth of water as we were not in Windhoek for the festive season. So we could not understand the huge bill they sent to us,” said one Windhoek resident preferring anonymity.
However, Akwenye said it is difficult to provide an explanation on a specific account without the account number.
He added that during the month of December the city issued a media statement notifying clients that no water readings would be taken during the festive season. The statement issued urged residents to submit their own readings.
“Yes, the city still estimates if no reading was taken, but the moment the actual readings are provided the estimate will be automatically reversed and the actual will be charged … At the moment the City of Windhoek has 20 meter readers who are responsible for reading of meters and each meter reader reads approximately 250 meters per day,” Akwenye explained.
He concluded that water and electricity bills are sometimes estimated merely because of the challenge meter readers face to access the premises where meters are in the yard. “The gates are mostly locked or dangerous dogs prohibit entry.”