Body corporate defies City, overcharges for water

25 March 2017
Author   Kaula Nhongo

The body corporate of Aviva Gardens in Hochland Park has been accused of swindling tenants out of their hard-earned money, by illegally installing prepaid meters, and overcharging them up to three times more than the City of Windhoek, for water.

It has emerged that Aviva Gardens owners, Messrs Home Works Property, installed the pre-paid water meters last year, without the City’s consent.

During an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week, the City’s Chief Engineer in the Department of Infrastructure, Water and Waste Management, Sheldon Husselmann, said that the body corporate jumped the gun, and are now illegally selling water on behalf of the municipality, without using a uniform rate per cubic metre.

According to Husselmann, the Areva Gardens body corporate had a meeting with the pre-paid meter supplier, Vendpro, and made a cost calculation, by adding an administration fee and service charge, which is supposed to be covered by the owners of the property.

When using prepaid water meters, the price per cubic metre depends on the quantity of water purchased.

For example, if a consumer purchases a N$100 token they, receive 2,5 cubic metres of water, which amounts to N$40 per cubic metre, while if one buys a token worth N$50, you receive 1,3 cubic metres of water, which amounts to about N$38 per cubic metre.

The City charges N$15 per cubic metre, which means that tenants end up paying almost three times per cubic metre, when pre-paid water meters are installed.

“What they (the Aviva Gardens body corporate) did is not 100 percent legal. They went out to install the prepaid water meters without approval, and the whole issue has turned into a mess,” Husselmann said.

He said that the body corporate installed prepaid water meters, while there are still conventional meters at the premises, meaning that the tenants buy water from the new service provider, who in turn pays the body corporate, after removing his charges, and then the property owners pay the City.

“It is sad that in this case it is the tenants who have to bear the extra charges, but the property owner is the one who is supposed to take up the extra charges and recover them somehow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the City engineer added that there are plans in place to rollout pre-paid water meters in the near future, but that they are still looking at how to do it, without creating unnecessary charges for the consumer.

This would mean that the City would replace conventional metres with prepaid water meters, which at this stage are a bit pricey to install.

“We are busy with a pilot project in the informal settlements, but we are still looking at how to recover our costs, before we can roll it out in the whole city,” he said.

Last year, Husselmann wrote a letter to the Aviva Gardens body corporate, instructing them to remove the meters, but nothing has been done since.

In the letter, Husselmann wrote that the installation was in conflict with the City’s water supply regulations.

The body corporate was not available for comment by the time of going to print.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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