GOVERNMENT institutions were owing Lusaka Water Sewerage and Sanitation Company (LWSSC) over K133 million in unpaid water bills as at end of 2018, according to the Auditor General’s report on the accounts of water and sanitation companies.

And the report has also revealed that the company had to uninstall 8,836 prepaid meters valued around K13 million due to faulty batteries resulting in wasteful expenditure.

According to the report, LWSSC, during the period under review, was owed about K267 million in unpaid water bills, majority of debtors being government institutions.

“According to LWSSC commercial policy, a customer is expected to pay the water bills within a period of fourteen (14) days after they have received the bill. However, a review of records availed for audit revealed that the Company was owed amounts totaling K266,512,300 in unpaid water bills some of which had been outstanding since 2016. Commercial Customers K37,233,903; Domestic Customers K95,826,311; and GRZ Institutions K133,452,085 bringing it to a total of K266,512,299,” the report read.

And the report disclosed that the company spent over K14 million wastefully through the purchase of faulty prepaid meters, and a vacuum tanker that did not serve their purpose.

“On 1st December 2015, LWSSC signed a contract with Infotron Zambia Limited for the supply of 9,000 prepaid meters at a contract sum of K13,479,767 and the contract sum had been paid in full. According to Clause No. 13 of the contract, the battery which was to be embedded in the prepaid meter was supposed to have a lifespan of at least five (5) years. However, it was observed that as at 31st December 2019, out of the 9,000 meters installed, batteries for 8,836 meters valued at K13,234,136 were found to be faulty before the expiry of the five year life span. Consequently, the meters were uninstalled resulting in wasteful expenditure,” the report read.

“On 29th May 2017, LWSSC engaged Peace Corps Investment Ltd to supply a vacuum tanker at a cost of K2,091,051 with a delivery period of eight (8) to twelve (12) weeks. The tanker was delivered on 28th February 2018 and the supplier had been paid the whole contract sum. Contrary to the clauses of the contract, the following were observed: The supplier delivered a vacuum tanker that had been used and had a mileage coverage of 20,000 Km at the time of delivery; The Company paid the supplier in full on 7th March 2018 including the 10% acceptance fee despite the vacuum tanker not meeting the specifications in clause 28.1. 52; There was no evidence that the supplier had provided the 10% performance security. As at 31st December 2019, twenty-two (22) months after delivery, the tanker had never been used and was parked at LWSSC premises as management had rejected the vacuum tanker.”

It added that the company also procured a faulty Vacuum Jetting Combination Truck at K1.2 million and has not been replaced since its delivery in March 2018

“Procurement of a Vacuum Jetting Combination Truck On 6th February 2017 LWSSC signed a contract with Multi-Industries Limited for the supply of a Vacuum-Jetting Combination truck with accessories at a contract sum of K1,200,000. The vacuum tanker was to be delivered within six (6) weeks after signing the contract. The contract was amended to vary the delivery date to 30th June 2018. The truck was delivered in March 2018 and the supplier had been paid in full. However, inquires with management revealed that the truck only worked for one day and was returned to the supplier as it had developed a fault with the jetting combination unit. As at 31st December 2019, twenty (20) months after it was returned, the truck was still with the supplier,” it read.

The report did however note that during the period under review, the company generated enough income to cater for its operational budget.

“During the financial years ended 31st December 2016 to 2018, the Company generated income in amounts totaling K838,806,278 against the budget of K770,818,824 resulting in a variance of K67,987,454. In addition, the company also received Government Grants and other income in amounts totaling K114,995,162,” read the report.