Harare drags Norton to court over water bill


HARARE City Council has taken Norton Town Council to the High Court claiming an outstanding water supply bill amounting to $541 217

The two local authorities entered a verbal agreement in which Harare supplies water to Norton for a fee. The deal turned sour when Norton failed to pay the bill, which by last year had ballooned to $541 217.

Efforts by Harare City Council to recover its money failed, resulting in the matter spilling into the High Court.

Norton among other reasons, is refusing to pay the bill, arguing that Harare’s estimate bills were not accurate and unrealistic.

Ironically, most residents have been raising the same complaint to their respective local authorities without success.


water-tapIn the summons filed by Harare City Council’s lawyers Honey & Blanckenberg Legal Practitioners, the capital city is claiming the outstanding $541 217 plus interest. The interest, according to Harare City Council, should be calculated at a prescribed rate from January 30, 2014 to the date of payment in full.

On unknown dates, the two councils agreed to the clean water supply deal in which Harare would bill Norton for the supplied water monthly.

Norton, in terms of the said agreement was compelled to tender payment as per raised bill after collecting money rates from the residents, who are the end users. But by December 2 2013, the bill had ballooned to $541 217.

Norton has refused or neglected or failed to pay the debt despite demand.

In the defendant’s plea filed by Norton’s lawyers, Mwonzora and Associates, it was argued that the agreement was merely verbal and that Harare had failed to supply the agreed quantities of water in violation of the agreement.

“Harare has failed to supply the agreed quantities of water per day, resulting in residents raising varying complaints to defendant, which complaints have influenced the failure and or refusal by residents to promptly pay their water bills,” reads the defendant’s plea.

Norton argues that Harare failed to play its part in the maintenance of the water pipes from Morton Jeffrey to Norton water reservoirs, in violation of the verbal agreement.

“Harare has failed to take its part in the maintenance of water pipes from Morton Jeffrey to Defendant’s water reservoirs leading to large quantities of water being lost before reaching the reservoirs but would have been billed anyway by plaintiff,” the plea reads .

Norton argues that Harare used estimates in billing them and that the bill was inaccurate and unreasonable.

“Harare has produced estimate invoices to defendant at all times and calls for actual billing and or the reconciliation of the estimate and actual billing has gone ignored, which event has the effect of distorting the consumptive billing to ensure just and equitable biller invoices.

“The biller invoices presented to defendant by plaintiff lack accuracy and in fact, many of them are inflated,” reads the defendant’s plea.

The parties have failed to settle the matter during pre-trial conferences and it will soon be set down for hearing at the High Court.


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