By The Inspirer writer
The Government has increased prices for residential water use from the existing Rwf323 to Rwf340 per cubic metre (m3) for water consumption not exceeding five m3; while the price has more than doubled from Rwf331 to Rwf720 a m3 for consumption of between six and 20 m3.
A cubic meter is equivalent to 1,000 litres, or about 50 jelly cans of water containing 20 litres each.
The tariffs which started taking effect from Friday, February 1, 2019, were announced last Thursday by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).
Furthermore, residential water use of between 20 and 50 cubic metres per month, will pay Rwf845 per cubic metre from Rwf400 in 2015.
If water consumption is above 50 cubic meters, the price is Rwf877 a cubic meter, up from Rw736 in 2015.
Also, the increase in price is applicable to non-residential purposes, as water use in this category will be charged Rwf877 a cubic meter if consumption ranges from 0 to 50 cubic meter, and will increase to Rwf895 a cubic meter in case the consumption goes beyond 50 cubic meters.
The new charges imply that the more one consumes water, the more the cost they have to incur.
However, the existing water tariffs for industrial consumers and public water taps were maintained, a decision that RURA says is intended to attract investors and cater for the affordability issues respectively.
Aimé Muzola, the Chief Executive Officer of the water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) said that the recent water tariffs were set in 2015, and were no longer matching the current economic realities as the cost of water production is higher.
“The water taken to subscribers is more costly than the fee they pay. It is in that case that the money spent in providing services correspond to that paid [by the subscribers],” he said.
He pointed out that the prices take into consideration the financial capacities of people, explaining that there are categories of people who use a lot of water who will have to pay more, explaining that “the more you use a lot of water, the more you have means to pay for it.”
Benjamin Rutimirwa, the director of economic regulation at RURA said that among factors that contributed to the increment in prices, there is need to increase access to water for all people, and repair old water (pipe) networks.
“The government has a target to enable all Rwandans access water by 2024. What is intended is to increase the capacity of the utility and projected increase of production, which requires investment,” he said.
The prices that existed before considered consumption irrespective of residential or non-residential.
Now, there are residential and non-residential blocks and the number of blocks were reduced.
Change in categories of water users
In the previous water use categories, there are were five blocks (from 0 to 5 m3; 6 m3 to 20 m3; 21 m3 to 50 m3; 50 m3 to 100 m3; and above) for all people or entities be it residential, commercial institutions among others and they had to pay the identified fee provided that they fall in the category in question.
But now, there are two blocks for non-residential (0 to 50 m3; and above [50 m3]), as well as four blocks for residential (0 to 5 m3; 5 m3 to 20 m3; 20 m3 to 50 m3; and above [50 m3]).
Talking about the distinction between residential and non-residential, Rutimirwa said it was a problem for residential and non-residential to be in the same block. But, treating each separately even facilitates the implementation of the policy, as it can help know the households which have water and those who have not,” he said.
Muzola said that the government still maintains its targets to help all Rwandans easy access water by 2024, citing the water project sponsored by the African Development bank which is expected to provide clean water to 2.6 million people both in urban and rural areas.
Figures from RURA show that the number of urban water subscribers countrywide, increased by 6.3% from 198,906 recorded at the end of 2017 to 211,479 customers recorded as of September 2018, of which 108,338 were in the City of Kigali.
About 87.1 percent of Rwandans have access to improved water, according to the Fifth Integrated Household Living Condition Survey (EICV 5).
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