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Silver Mugisha’s NWSC Needs Shs1Trillion for New Water Meters, Set to Disconnect Government Agencies Over Unpaid Water Bills

NWSC MD Dr Eng Silver Mugisha. Courtesy Photo

National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) Managing Director Dr Eng Silver Mugisha has revealed that the institution has shelved the idea of buying new prepaid meters because of their cost. Eng Mugisha also announced that NWSC will start disconnecting government agencies which have defaulted on their bills.

The NWSC MD noted that non-payment of water bills by some customer segments is threatening service continuity since it affects the ability of NWSC to effectively deliver services and meet its obligations.

Biggest NWSC defaulters include the Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons Service, as well as the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs, among others.

“Management has taken a painful decision to implement a strict disconnection strategy for all outstanding arrears of more than one month, with immediate effect,” Dr Mugisha announced.

The MD further noted that all government institutions that have accumulated domestic arrears over and above the discount invoicing threshold approved by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development will be immediately disconnected.

The NWSC MD was concerned with the Ministry of Defense, Police and Uganda Prisons which have accumulated arrears of Shs19bn over and above the existing Shs43b arrears that the Finance Ministry has accepted to budget for and clear. The Shs19b arrears accrued between July 2022 and March 2023.

“We pay for power, chemicals, repair materials among other production inputs for every cubic meter of water supplied to customers. The providers of the production inputs need money to continue supplying us,” explained Mugisha.

He went on to note that the corporation is implementing projects in Soroti, Kanungu, Kalungu,  Lyantonde, Moroto, Kyankwanzi, Kihihi, Tororo, among others using internally generated resources. Delayed bill payment will affect these projects among others in the pipeline, he added.

On the suggestions to use prepaid water meters to guard against non-payment of water bills, the NWSC MD said that his administration is open to any innovation that presents cost-benefit advantages to its business conduct.

“Our preliminary assessment of prepaid meter technology is that it is a new innovation for which we don’t have robust successful case studies. Our own case study for low-income and ministry accounts has not yielded superior efficiency gains,” he said.

Quoting a preliminary financial assessment, the NWSC MD said the overall investment cost for the entire NWSC meter replacement operation lies between Shs 800bn and Shs1000bn, an investment he made it clear the utility firm was not willing to take on, but would rather invest in serving more Ugandans.

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