THE Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) has embarked on countrywide stakeholder meetings to ensure the provision of quality services to its customers.
The meetings have so far been held in Quthing as well as the south and central part of the country with the exception of Maputsoe and Hlotse. They were also expected to be held in Mohale’s Hoek and Mafeteng on Tuesday and yesterday respectively.
According to WASCO Public Relations Manager, Lineo Moqasa, the issues of outstanding water bills and limited paying points dominated the agenda of the meetings.
She said the non-payment of water bills was weighing heavily on the performance of the company and had hamstrung its efforts to provide clean water to other areas of the country.
“We have initiated the consultations with the purpose of creating a platform for our customers to air their views,” said Ms Moqasa.
“We are taking into consideration the issues they are raising and also highlighting WASCO’s challenges and the obligations of consumers.
“Their main grievance stems from the hikes in the water tariffs and the limited number of outlets for paying their bills.
“On our part, we are highlighted the challenges we are facing because our customers are failing to pay their water bills on time. The lack of funds has hindered our progress in supplying water to other areas of the country.”
She said the mushrooming of unplanned settlements was another challenge they were grappling with, as some people were building illegal structures on WASCO infrastructure while others were illegally extending their yards.
“If anyone wishes to construct any building in the urban centres, they have to apply for a building permit from either the council or district administrator’s office depending on where they are in the country,” Ms Moqasa said.
“We have also encountered the challenge of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation which have resulted in increased water shortages and inadequate sanitation facilities in the urban and peri-urban areas.
“The company has, therefore, engaged in awareness campaigns to urge consumers to use water sparingly.”
She said WASCO was also noting the concerns raised in the meetings, and revamping its infrastructure and making use of technology to meet their customers’ needs.
“On the whole, this initiative is a positive step in stakeholder engagement towards improved service delivery. With regards to old water supply infrastructure, we have an ongoing rehabilitation project which seeks to replace old pipes and introduce new technologically-advanced systems in some of our operating centres,” Ms Moqasa said.
“As far as our pay points are concerned, we are also educating people about utilising mobile money payment systems in addition to the traditional way of paying at WASCO offices, post offices and Shoprite stores.
“Our services are now available on such facilities as Vodacom’s M-pesa, Econet’s Eco-cash and Standard Lesotho Bank. These services are fully accessible to subscribers of these networks and customers can also pay through an electronic bank transfer.”
She said WASCO customers were also able to check the state of their accounts on the company’s website if the bills are coming to them late.
“They can now enter their account number on our website to see their balances,” Ms Moqasa said, adding that during the countrywide meetings customer representatives would be elected to attend a national stakeholder conference to be held in Maseru next year.