Maputo, 12 Jul (AIM) – The Maputo Metropolitan Water Company says that its clients owe debts of over 100 million meticais (1.6 million US dollars, at the current exchange rate).
Interviewed by the independent television station STV, the chairperson of the company, Alvaro Cossa, said both public and private companies are consuming water and not paying for it.
The managers of the debtor companies, he accused, “are not very willing to pay for the service”. The largest debtors are the Ministries of Defence, Health and Education.
“These are the largest clients of the Maputo Metropolitan Water Company”, said Cossa, “and so they are also the largest debtors”.
Cossa’s company is one of several commercial water boards set up by the Mozambican state, and they are all chasing debts of many millions of meticais. In extreme cases, this has resulted in disconnecting clients – thus a few weeks ago, the Central Regional Water Board cut off the water supply to Quelimane Central Hospital.
The only reason this did not plunge the hospital into crisis was that its own water tanks were already full.
Cossa said negotiations are under way to pay off the debts to avoid disconnecting consumers.
“There’s permanent negotiation”, he stressed. “We have reached agreements to pay in installments, so that the institutions pay off their debts, and we keep the water flowing”.
Cossa pointed out that to send water to the company’s clients, “we use pumps, which need electricity to work. This water has to be treated with chemicals, and this involves costs. We have a network of pipes that runs for 4,000 kilometres that has to be maintained. Hence we are selling the water supply, and this ought to be paid for”.
Cossa insisted that the water consumed in the Maputo metropolitan region is of good quality. Studies that claim otherwise, he claimed, did not take samples of water from the public network.
He argued that the best solution for the future would be full privatisation of the water service which would “decentralize the service and speed up public access to drinking water in a sustainable manner”.
In this model, the role of the state would be to inspect the water companies, and to fix “fair tariffs” for the entire chain of water supply.