PERMANENT Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Water, Prof Kitila Mkumbo, has directed water utilities to strive for a single digit in non-revenue water (NRW).
NRW is water that has been produced and is "lost" before it reaches customers through leakages.
The PM gave the directive recently when the ministry was signing a performance contract with regional water utilities, saying the current NRW stood at between 36 and 40 per cent.
Prof Mkumbo said the percentage was very high and unacceptable, thus water utilities must use all means and apply best technologies to contain NRW.
He said monthly revenue collection from 65 water utilities was 22bn/-and the government lost 8bn/-through NRW.
“The acceptable level of NRW is 20 percent. We stand at between 38 and 40 percent, which is unacceptable. We must work very hard to attain the single digit as it is the case in other countries,” said Prof Mkumbo.
He used the occasion to challenge water utility board to come up with technological innovation that would detect water leakages for timely intervention.
“We are too traditional in our operations. Let us utilise new technologies and minimise NRW for it is lost revenue,” he insisted.
He called for a change of attitude and mindset in customer care as it was one of the areas many people complained about.
“The Customer Care Unit should not be too mechanical in customer care. It is an area that needs improvement in service provision. It is a major setback in many water utilities,” said Prof Mkumbo. He further told water utilities to meet operational costs instead of depending on the ministry, saying he only got funds for development projects and not for otherwise.
“Some of the water utilities want to relax. They must be independent and strong enough to survive and meet their operational costs. Days are gone when such was offered by the ministry,” he insisted.
For his part, Deputy Permanent Secretary Anthony Sanga urged water utilities to settle issues and complaints about billing and unreliable water services which were painting a bad image of the investment the government had put in water supply.
He also directed water utilities to abide by regulations by paying on time statutory levies.