“Non-payment of water bills by some customer segments is threatening service continuity”, says NWSC MD Mugisha

NWSC is to disconnect non-paying customers because non payment of water bills by some customer segments is affecting the ability of National to effectively deliver services and meet its obligations, Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha, the corporation’s Managing Director has announced.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 at the head offices in Nakasero, Dr. Mugisha said that non-payment of water bills by a number of customer segments including the Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons, the Ministry of Defence, and other government institutions is threatening service continuity.

“Management has taken a painful decision to implement a strict disconnection strategy for all outstanding arrears of more than one month, with immediate effect,” Dr. Mugisha said.

He said all government institutions that have accumulated domestic arrears over and above the discount invoicing threshold approved by the Ministry of Finance will be disconnected, with immediate effect, after failed attempts to heed the PSST’s directive to consider water bills as the first call on quarterly releases, consistently.

Government entities have failed to clear outstanding water bills, in billions.

Dr. Mugisha was specifically concerned with the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs, Uganda Police Service and Uganda Prisons Service which have accumulated arrears of UGX19b over and above the existing Shs43b arrears that the Ministry of Finance has accepted to budget for and clear.
The 19b arrears accrued between July 2022 and March 2023.

Speaking to domestic users, who owe about UGX 18b, Eng Mugisha said that each and every coin counts.

“We pay for power, chemicals, repair materials among other production inputs for every cubic meter of water supplied to customers. The providers of the production inputs need money to continue supplying us. We therefore urge customers to pay their water bills from as low as 5000UGX and above” he said.

Furthermore, Eng Mugisha said that the corporation is implementing projects in Soroti, Kanungu, Kalungu, Lyantonde, Moroto, Kyankwanzi, Kihihi, Tororo, among others using internally generated resources. Delayed bill payment will affect these projects among others in the pipeline.

NWSC had previously agreed with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to budget for UGX.43 billion arrears which would be cleared in the next three years.

Last year, Dr. Mugisha, told the Finance Ministry that they appreciated their support towards the settlement of water consumption charges in various MDAs on a quarterly basis.

“However, the funds being released are not sufficient to clear all the bills. As a result, the bills have accumulated,” he told Ramadhan Ggoobi, the finance ministry permanent secretary.

“This is a constraint to our cash inflows as a corporation and affects both the operations and public service delivery,” he said.

On the suggestions to use prepaid water meters to guard against non-payment of water bills, the NWSC boss said that his administration is open to any innovation that presents cost-benefit advantages to its business conduct.

“Our preliminary assessment of prepaid meter technology is that it is a new innovation for which we don’t have robust successful case studies. Our own case study for low-income and ministry accounts has not yielded superior efficiency gains,” he told reporters.

Quoting a preliminary financial assessment, he said the overall investment cost for the entire NWSC meter replacement operation lies between UGX 800b-1000Bn, an investment that the utility firm isn’t willing to take on, but rather, invests it in serving more Ugandans with clean safe water.