Malawi: Public water utility provider Posts US$60 million loss in its water provision operations.

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Our Reporter in Malawi
June 20, 2011

One of the three Malawi’s public water utility providers, the Northern Region Water Board has posted US$60 million loss in its water provision operations, government authorities have revealed.

The authorities attribute the loss to poor management of water resources such as failure to repair broken pipes and leakage of water pipes.

The loss is despite government’s annual financial allocations to aid the smooth operations of the water parastatal.

However, government has in the 2011/2012 national budget under debate in the capital Lilongwe introduced a 16.5 percent value added tax on water.

Finance minister Ken Kandodo during the budget presentation justified the tax introduction on water to huge costs of equipment on the international market.

Malawi's Minister of Finance Ken Kandodo

This however, is being refuted by the public as they think government wants to collect more revenue for its zero deficit budget.

This means that consumers should forget having improved water delivery as the board will not be able to procure new equipment for expansion projects.

“This is bad as it translates into high its tarrifs already.” Said Mary Mkandawire, a mother of three children.

The northern region water board provides water to more than 3 million Malawians in the northern region districts like Rumphi, Karonga, Mzimba, Chitipa, Karonga and Likoma.

Main opposition, Malawi Congress Party, Financial Spokesperson Joseph Njovuyalema says the loss is pathetic since the authorities are bankrolling the utility without any profits at all.

According to Njovuyalema there is need for a complete overhaul of the board.

Meanwhile, the Blantyre Water Board which provides water to Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre with a population of 2 million people has been lauded for making K30 million profits respectively.

The board has since launched an intensive rehabilitation of its infrastructure to increase water production capacity.

The Board’s acting Chief Executive Billy Kamphinda: “The exercise is going to take 16 months; beginning August this year.”

“After a lengthy and rigorous procurement process, last week we signed a contract with a contractor called Gammon- Technofab Joint Venture of Mumbai in India to commence the rehabilitation and upgrading of our main pumping stations– the Intake and High Lift pumping stations– at the Walkers Ferry and rehabilitation of the twin pipeline to Chileka,” Kamphinda Banda said.

He added that the contractors would start mobilising themselves so that the works on the Walkers Ferry starts by August this year.

The Rehabilitation includes treatment works at Walkers Ferry and Chileka Pumping Station as well as construction of additional storage reservoirs in the city.

“Our desire is to have these projects implemented as concurrently to each other as possible to yield maximum benefits from them and the Board is making all efforts to achieve this. We’re, therefore, appealing to our customers and all stakeholders to continue being patient with us for a while as we implement this project and will continue to update the public through you because there will be a lot of activities being carried out during the implementation period,” Kamphinda Banda said.

The Board further stated that these works would cause some interruptions but as part of the signed agreement with the contractor, they would ensure that the interruptions are minimized.

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