Natasha Adam, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO residents have expressed concern over Bulawayo City Council’s (BCC) decision to hike rates by 416 percent backdated to February 1.
In an interview, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) Co-ordinator Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu said residents will find it difficult to settle their bills.
Mr Ndlovu said the residents’ association will continue to push against the implementation of council’s debt recovery policy because of the effect it will have on residents.
“This budget is a sign of worse things to follow. Residents might lose properties and it is going to be difficult for them to carry this budget,” he said.
“The debt recovery policy has a lot of provisions but the ones we are pushing against are the garnishing of residents who are in arrears and the policy that states that council cannot provide relatives with a grave if the deceased is owing the council until the debt is cleared.”
Mr Ndlovu said the amount owed to council by residents will increase due to failure to pay the increased rates. “Considering the 400 percent rate increase there will be more people failing to pay and more people being at risk of having their properties attached,” he said.
A resident, Sibonginkosi Ncube (43) from Mzilikazi suburb lamented council’s decision to increase rates.
“I am already struggling as it is to pay my current outstanding debt. At this rate I will never have water at my house again,” she said.
In a statement on Tuesday, BCC encouraged residents to come up with new payment plans before the end of next month.
“Customers who made payment arrangements with the City of Bulawayo are encouraged to visit the nearest Revenue Office to update their debt payment arrangement to incorporate the new charges and continue enjoying benefits that go with such arrangements.
The opportunity to review your payment arrangements is available up to 31 March 2020,” said council. — @natashaadam1