The compliance levels on borehole registration has been very low since the Statutory Instrument (SI) on ground water regulation was introduced, says Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA) compliance and regulations manager Alexander Chomba.

And Chomba has clarified that the K250 borehole tax is a one-off fee.

Chomba told News Diggers! in an interview that since the SI was introduced in March, 2018, only 3,451 boreholes had been registered so far.

“The compliance level in terms of borehole registration is still very low. You can imagine, if we are to go maybe, Chalala, we have maybe, 5,000 households there, meaning we have more than 5,000 boreholes in just Chalala alone. And if we were to go to Meanwood Kwamwena, Meanwood Ndeke, Meanwood valley, all those have boreholes there, and they are in thousands. So, in terms of compliance, I think it’s very low at the moment, but maybe, you know how [we] Zambians behave, maybe people have been waiting for last minute to come and start registering their boreholes. And that last minute is just 30th of September. We cannot say for now [that there will be any extension of the deadline] maybe when we reach 30th that is when maybe we can think and try to maybe extend, but for now there is no extension,” Chomba said.

“So far, from the time that the SI was signed on the 7th of March, we have registered boreholes of 3, 451. These are already existing boreholes. Now, you know that the SI talks about individuals like yourself to apply when you are drilling a new borehole since we have this SI in place. So, the applications that we have [for someone] to drill a borehole are 2,349 and the rejected applications, these are applications to drill a borehole. From all the applications that we have received, we have rejected about 20 applications due to various reasons, sometimes not fulfilling the WARMA conditions; sometimes, you go to an area where someone wants to drill a borehole and we discover that maybe it’s near the grave yard or near the septic tank or so many various reasons. So, we have rejected about 20 of those.”

He explained the acceptable parameters required for drilling boreholes.

“And the pending applications to-date is 60, those are the ones that we are processing, which are yet to be approved because normally what happens is when you apply to drill a borehole, then we will send our inspectors to go out there in the field to make sure that where you are drilling a borehole there is maximum adherence to the parameters that we’ve set, like maybe 30 metres from the pit latrine or septic tank; 500 metres away from the grave yard; 30 metres away from any garage or any filling station or fuel storage, so all those are the parameters,” he narrated.

Choma also said 84 out of 88 applications borehole drillers had been licensed.

“Now, when it comes to licensing of drillers, we have received so far 88 applications. Out of the 88 applications we have received, we have granted 84 [and] these other four have not yet fulfilled the conditions to be granted a license to go and do business. So, sometimes, we will send the papers back to them and give them enough time to make sure that they fulfil the conditions then they can still come back. So far, they are only four,” he added.

And Choma clarified that the K250 borehole tax was a one-off fee.

“The fee is a one-off payment. When you come to WARMA and you have a borehole and register that borehole, you will only pay K250 for the lifetime of your borehole. It’s not a monthly charge; it’s not a yearly charge, no. It’s just a one-off. In the SI, it is talking about units, and in those units that’s where people have been making mistakes because in units it’s 833.333. Now, you remember there is also an SI that translates those units into kwacha. One unit is equal to 0.30 ngwee [and] so if you multiply 833.33X 0.30 ngwee it gives you about K249, which we are just rounding off to K250,” explained Chomba.