COMMENT: Urban, rural councils should prioritise service delivery
Most urban councils have remained in the hands of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and it is our hope that this time around, the councils will prioritise service delivery. Central Government was last year forced to intervene after realising that road networks in most urban areas were in a terrible state.
The core business of both urban and rural local authorities is to provide services to residents or communities under their jurisdiction. What this means is that councils should prioritise service delivery.
The bulk of the revenue collected by local authorities should therefore be directed towards service delivery as opposed to paying hefty salaries and perks for senior staff.
It is a fact that salaries and perks for senior councils staff continue to gobble the bulk of the revenue collected by local authorities thereby depriving residents of quality services. At one time local authorities were spending about 75 percent of their revenue on salaries and allowances at the expense of service delivery and this prompted Central Government to issue a directive for councils to reduce salaries of senior staff.
Most councils have since elected mayors and their deputies and just like the newly appointed Cabinet ministers, the councillors should hit the ground running as they work to improve service delivery. Most councils are failing to provide adequate water to residents because the local authorities have not expanded the water reticulation infrastructure in tandem with the growing population.
There is therefore an urgent need for councils to upgrade their pumping and water reticulation infrastructure.
Many councils are also failing to collect garbage thereby putting the health of residents at risk. Residents are forced to dump garbage in undesignated areas because councils are no longer collecting refuse yet this is one of the key services that urban local authorities should provide.
Bulawayo City councillors led by the Mayor, Clr David Coltart said they have already started work and have been going around the city’s suburbs to check on progress in implementing development projects as well as checking the state of council amenities. Bulawayo residents, especially in the high density suburbs, have gone for several weeks without running water and as such, many are now relying on borehole water.
The city’s supply dams have adequate water to meet residents’ daily consumption yet residents are going for weeks without the precious liquid. The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is one of the local authorities that are failing to collect refuse and residents have resorted to dumping garbage in undesignated areas.
The bulk of the revenue for councils comes from residents who pay rates, service charges and water bills. Residents can only be motivated to pay their bills when the councils provide the required services.
It is a fact that many residents are now reluctant to pay for the services which they are not enjoying hence the reduced revenue that many councils are collecting.
We want to once again implore the new councils to ensure the bulk of the councils’ resources are spent on service delivery.