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LEWA approves WASCO tariff hike

Tšoloane Mohlomi

POTABLE water consumers will be paying more for the precious liquid starting this month.

This is after the Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (LEWA)’s recent approval of a 5, 67 percent water tariff increase which came into effect on 1 April 2022.

The increase was requested by the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) in December 2021.

The new tariff was announced by LEWA on Thursday after its Wednesday meeting with WASCO.

WASCO had requested a 15 percent tariff increase of volumetric and standing charges on 16 December 2021. The company had also requested a revenue requirement of M296, 2 million for the 2022/23 financial year.

However, LEWA approved only a M215, 61 million revenue requirement for water production and distribution.

LEWA board chairperson, Relebohile Mosito, told the media this weekend that the board had resolved to approve a M215, 61 million revenue requirement.

“In our meeting held yesterday (Wednesday), after several deliberations and taking into consideration other external factors, despite the approved M215, 61 million, we came to the conclusion of increasing all volumetric water tariffs by 5, 67 percent for all consumers, 9, 17 percent standing charges for all consumer categories except for Band A customers but connection fees will, however, remain unchanged,” Mr Mosito said.

The basis for the decision, Mr Mosito said, was the short- and long-term ramifications of under recovery by the utility. In the short term, he said, under recovery by the utility could lead to cost cutting and subsequently result in poorer service quality and less investment in maintenance and necessary upgrades.

Long-term consequences could result in WASCO increasing the cost of its service as it would depend on older and less productive equipment.

LEWA canvassed the public’s input while deliberating on the proposed increments.

“As part of the review process and considering the government restrictions on public gatherings on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Authority requested stakeholders to present their written views, facts, and evidence on the tariff application via print, electronic media and at the district administrators offices across the country from 17 January to 9 February 2022. Comments submitted by stakeholders were considered in the review process leading to the tariff approval,” Mr Mosito said.

A statement from LEWA this weekend said the regulator was cognisant of the ailing economy, which still hadn’t recovered from the Covid-19-induced economic fallout. Therefore, it had to strike a balance between affordability and sustainability on the part of consumers and the utility respectively.

WASCO acting chief executive officer (CEO), Thelejane Thelejane, said the new tariff increases were necessary for the sustainability of quality services and addressing issues in the provision of water services.

“First of all, when paying for your monthly bill, you don’t necessarily pay for the water you consume from your tap, but you pay for all the services involved in delivering quality water to your residence and that involves a lot of costly processes. The increment was necessary to ensure that we sustain all that.” Mr Thelejane said.

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