LUSAKA Hotel Limited has denied owing Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company Limited (LWSSC) over K1 million as an outstanding bill for sewerage services provided to the hotel.
The hotel has submitted that the amount claimed by LWSSC has to be verified through a diligent reconciliation of the issues raised by the hotel, which dates back over a period of five years.
In this matter, LWSSC is seeking payment of K1,004,662.70 being the outstanding bill for sewerage services provided to Lusaka Hotel.
It also wants interest on the said sum, costs and any other reliefs the Court may deem fit to award in the circumstances.
But in its defence filed in the Lusaka High Court, Lusaka Hotel Limited denied that the sum of K1,004,662.70 as claimed by LWSSC in its statement of claim was due.
It stated that it would aver at trial that there were outstanding queries, which had been raised with LWSSC concerning inaccurate metre reading, erratic and inconsistent billing, wrong tariffs and failure by LWSSC to trace payments made to it, but which had been debited to its account.
The hotel added that the amount claimed had to be verified through a diligent reconciliation of the issues raised by it which dates back over a period of five years.
It further stated that prior to February 12, 2020, the hotel, at its own cost, procured services and paid for a leak detection test, but LWSSC or its agents failed to come and witness the said test.
The hotel admitted that the sewer services had been discontinued to the great inconvenience of its clients.
“The defendant (Lusaka Hotels Limited) will seek an Order under Rule 3(2)(g)(I) of Order XIX of the High Court Amendment Rules 2020, SI No. 58 of 2020 for the issues raised, herein, to be referred to mediation to look into in particular: (i) A reconciliation of the metre readings in particular the figures of the metre readers vis -a-vis those billed in a month; (ii) Erratic and inconsistent amounts in billing; (iii) Tariff used inconsistent with hospitality industry/industrial use; (iv) Reconciliation of payments made to plaintiff, which it has failed to trace, and showing as credited to the plaintiff,” read the defence.
“Save as herein before expressly admitted, the defendant denies and every allegation of fact contained in the plaintiff’s statement of claim.”
LWSSC had stated in its statement of claim that Lusaka Hotels Limited had been their customer with account number 03001502 receiving sewerage services, which it was billed for.
It further stated that the defendant (Lusaka Hotels Limited) had its own borehole, which was metered and LWSSC only bills it for sewerage based on metered volumes.
LWSSC added that as at the date of issuance of the writ of summons, Lusaka Hotels Limited had an accumulated bill for sewerage services of K1,004,662.70, which it had refused and/or neglected to pay.
“The plaintiff has on several occasions attempted to resolve the matter amicably, but the defendant has neglected to pay the bill, citing lack of business or disputing the plaintiff’s billing on the basis of inaccurate metre readings,” read the claim.
It stated that it had engaged Lusaka Hotels to resolve its dispute on billing and changed the defendant’s metre, but even after doing this, the defendant had neglected to pay the bill.
“Further to changing the defendant’s metre, the plaintiff at the request of the defendant, issued a Bill of Quantities (BOQ) on or about February 12, 2020, for leak detection to see where the defendant might be losing water, but to-date, the defendant has not acted upon this,” read the claim further.
LWSSC said it eventually disconnected Lusaka Hotel from its sewer line in August, this year, and attempted to resolve the matter amicably on how best the defendant could settle the bill, but all its efforts have proven futile.
It stated that as a result, it had suffered loss.