EMA fines Gweru City Council $25k
GWERU City Council has been fined $25 000 by the Environmental Management Agency for allegedly discharging raw sewage into an open stream, a situation which was posing health hazard to residents in Mtapa and Ascot high density suburbs.
In a presentation made at the Zanu-PF Convention Centre last week, Gweru City Council commissioner Mr Tsungai Mhangami said the city was in the process of rehabilitating its sewage treatment plant after the local authority was penalised for discharging raw effluent into Gweru River.
Mr Mhangami said the council was grappling with a debt of about $32 million while at the same time defaulting residents owed the local authority about $30 million in unpaid water bills and rates.
“We have been fined $25 000 by EMA for failing to manage our refuse as well as discharging raw sewage into Gweru River. We are in the process of rehabilitating our sewage treatment plant,” he said.
Gweru City Council is also grappling with a $ 5 million debt in salary arrears for its employees dating back to February this year amid revelations that it is failing to meet its wage bill of $1,6 million a month. Sunday News is reliably informed that of the $5 million debt, $750 000 is owed to idle workers who were left jobless following the closure of the local authority’s brewery, Go Beer, a few months ago.
The local authority has a staff complement of about 1 300 after firing about 50, taking advantage of the three months Supreme Court ruling notice.
Mr Mhangami said Gweru City Council was realising $1,2 million from its monthly revenues from rates and water bills against a wage bill of $ 1,6 million.
“We owe our workers $5 million in outstanding salaries dating back to February. We have a wage bill of $1,6 million,” he said.
He said the sad development is going to result in management employing drastic measures to reduce its operational costs and wage bill.
“We found the local authority in quandary and menace. We are trying to clean it up and extricate it from the quagmire. The council was bankrupt and the wage bill higher than what the council was realising every month,” he said.
Mr Mhangami said employees and residents should understand that most companies that used to pay huge sums of money for services rendered by the local authority were either ailing or dysfunctional.
In that light, he said they wanted to restore sanity in Gweru as tasked by the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, when he suspended 16 councillors and fired two for gross corruption, mismanagement of council funds and property, among other allegations.