Improve pipe-water access for urban users before effecting borehole fees
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The newly revised Statutory instrument (SI 18 of 2018) states that all borehole owners must register their boreholes with the Water Resource Management Authority and/or catchment councils, whether they are located in farming area or residential areas upon payment of a fee. Those intending to drill such a borehole must apply through their catchment councils upon payment of a fee. The WaRMA act states that it shall; "... provide for the management, development, conservation, protection and preservation of the water resource and its ecosystems; provide for the equitable, reasonable and sustainable utilisation of the water resource; ensure the right to draw or take water for domestic and noncommercial purposes, and that the poor and vulnerable members of the society have an adequate and sustainable source of water free from any charges.."
Majority of domestic and noncommecial water users have resorted to drilling boreholes due to the fact that piped water is not supplied by the water utility companies. Where water is supplied by the utility firm's, the supply is erratic. And have thus resorted to have boreholes. The concern is how pro-poor this move is. What incentive is there for the citizen, such as water treatment.
Further, the timeframe set in which every borehole owner has been given to register is short (Six months from date of act coming into effect.
The people affected in this act majority will be famers, and persons located in urban area where access to piped water is poor or non existent. This will push the cost of doing business and likely that farm produce that is irrigated will in turn become expensive as their unit cost of production rises.
Also citizens feel they are being over taxed. Historically, it has proved retrogressive to tax citizens who feel the tax does not directly benefit them in anyway other than the units that collect the said tax. In the past 3 years several taxes have either come into effect or been upwardly adjusted by not less than 40 percent. For instance, customs duty on imported cars, toll gates, income tax on rent, increase on TV levy...
What needs to be done currently is improve pipe water supply for domestic and non commercial users. Educate the citizen on need to register their boreholes. Provide incentives such as periodic borehole treatment, and water level surveys at no charge. Also ease the process of registration from hard copies that have to be submitted to the Authority, to online registration. And turn over time it will take to approve applications for drilling of new borehole.
Government want its citizens to be self sufficient and increase agricultural output for food security and sustainable development, this move to introduce levies on groundwater access for domestics, commercial and non commercial users seems to be fighting the very thing they are trying to promote. Further we need a guarantee that applications will be responded to within 7 working days.
We want to see a Zambia with an urban population of 80+% access to piped water supplied by the utility firms - an improvement from the current situation.
We hope that this petition will make the authorities revise this SI or even suspend it until the plight of the people is looked into and there's tangible improvements in water supply in urban areas.
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