Shop owners at Sopers Arcade have been operating for more than six months without water following the disconnection of supplies by the local authority over unpaid bills.
The move by council comes at a time when its debt recovery is just 2.9 percent when it is owed more than $4 million in unpaid rates and water charges by residents and other stakeholders such as hoteliers.
Sopers Arcade houses clothing boutiques, Internet cafés, bookshops, a restaurant and a fruit and vegetable shop.
Shop owners and their clients have resorted to visiting other complexes like Galleria, Victoria Falls Rest Camp, Innscor complex or any other nearby outlets for the purposes of relieving themselves as the toilets at the arcade have since blocked because of the unavailability of water.
Some also visit the same places to collect drinking and cooking water and as a result, a health hazard is looming.
In an interview yesterday, the acting Town Clerk, Mr Philip Ndlovu, said council had resorted to disconnecting water supplies to force defaulters to own up.
He said the shop owners were given their bills but were not settling the bills.
“Yes water was disconnected at Sopers Arcade and I do not know how they are operating without water.
“In this light we are going to shut down all the shops at the arcade soon to force them to pay their water bills so that water is restored,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu added that the reason for the closure of the premises was mainly due to health concerns.
He added that there were at least 25 shops which dealt with visitors such as tourists everyday that were operating without water.
“It is just a matter of time before there is a disease outbreak at that shopping centre. It is a hive of activity yet they do not want to pay. After closing the premises and if they do not come forward, we will be forced to take legal action against them.”
Meanwhile, the Sprayview Hotel had its water supplies disconnected by the municipality because of a bad debt.
Although the amount owed by the hotel was not readily available yesterday, this paper has it on good authority that the hotel had clients booked during the festive season even though it had water problems.
According to the “reconciliation of figures with ratepayers (commercial)” update, presented at the management committee meeting held on 19 December last year, Elephant Hills resort had also not settled its debt.
“The accountant highlighted that the department was not yet through with the reconciliation but advised as follows: Elephant Hills Hotel — still outstanding, Sprayview Hotel — water supplies were disconnected and no payments were made. The rest of the bad debtors made payment plans and some had started making payments.
“Members agreed that all bad debtors should be handed over for litigation,” reads part of the minutes.
Source: Victoria Falls Council disconnects water supplies to defaulting hotel (11/1/12)