Residents owe City N$390 million
Windhoek residents owe the City of Windhoek a staggering N$390 million due to non-payment of their “municipal consumer debt” over periods of years. Many of the accounts are outstanding for 5 years.
According to the City of Windhoek spokesperson, Joshua Amukugo, the debt owed to the City is hampering the City’s provision for service delivery, which has resulted in the service delivery by the municipality to decline.
“The lack of service provision is due to accumulated debt. To get services you have to fork out money. But now if you are forking out money with millions of debt then how will you pay for this material, how will you pay for these people to go and put up the services, while you have people sitting with your money and they do not want to give it,” he said.
He said, to deliver basic services to households effectively, the City relies on its own revenue which is composed mainly of property taxes and charges for providing water, electricity, refuse removal, sanitation and other services.
“However, one critical question is what happens when the ability of the City of Windhoek to generate adequate levels of own revenue is constrained? To this end, the issue of non-payment also referred to as municipal consumer debt, poses a serious threat to the financial health of the Windhoek Municipality,” he said.
He further said, although there is a habit of non-payment of municipal debt, there has been an outcry regarding the steps taken by the Windhoek Municipality in ensuring that debts are paid timeously and that municipal debts are prioritised.
“In applying its debt management policy it has been strangely noted that debtors are willing to stay without water as opposed to electricity. It the services for water are discounted due to prolonged periods of non-payment by debtors, nothing changes. These debtors continue with their habits of non-payment of municipal debts. Strangely once the electricity is disconnected, debtors either come in for arrangements or settle their accounts in full, hence the approach to block pre-paid meters. This is in terms of regulation 20 of the Electricity Supply Regulations,” he said.
Ben Ngairorve, manager of the debt management division at the City, said there are two ways that the municipality can get their revenue; subsidies from central government and through their own methods of revenue collection. “We are not getting subsidies from central government, our source of income is coming from those services that we are rendering. You should also understand that we are getting our service from other enterprises like NamPower and NamWater. We pay them for their services and yet we have a big problem collecting our own revenue from consumers,” he said. He further said, that not prioritising municipal bills is an overall culture and is therefore what the City hopes to change through its awareness campaigns. “We will make you aware that your municipality bill is important as well like any other and you must come and pay it,” he said. The City further said that although it renders a range of services to its residence, the water and electricity component, as old as 3 years, stands at over N$100million.