Water Hike: Blantyre Water Board To Pay Back Customers

The Blantyre Water Board (BWB) has pledged to pay back its customers following a government’s decision to reverse water tariff’s increase some of the country’s water boards effected last year.

The government’s decision to reverse the increase was as a result of the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) intervention.

The Commission has since agreed that that the decision taken by Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to refund excess money paid by consumers, after the board secretly raised tariffs, is sufficient remedy under consumer protection laws.

The decision was made during the 51st meeting the board held on January 26 to consider and adjudicate on cases of alleged unfair trading practices, anti-competitive conduct, mergers and acquisition.

In November 2017, it was revealed that the water boards hiked their tariffs in secret by 15 percent for domestic users and 20 percent for commercial customers.

The decision was in breach of Section 6 of the Consumer Protection Act, which makes it mandatory for service providers to give consumers true, sufficient, clear and timely information on the services they offer.

CFTC Executive Director, Wezi Malonda, said BWB voluntarily reversed the tariff hike in October 2017, which is satisfactory remedy warranting closure of the case.

“The commission noted that BWB made an undertaking to refund the excess money paid by consumers during the period, when the increased tariffs were in force. This undertaking is sufficient remedy acceptable under consumer protection laws,” she said.

BWB Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Chaweza, said heads of all the water boards operating in the country were in a closed-door meeting to decide the modalities that would be followed to reimburse consumers the excess money.