Kafubu rations water supply in Ndola

Since we have a contract; when this provider wants my money in compensation for these services, they send me a letter. When I do not pay them in what they deem a satisfactory period of time they can send me a warning letter and should I still fail to pay up they cut off my water supply. This is their right, I don’t mind it; if I were them I would do the same. This is where the similarities end however.

As a consumer I’ve often gone without water without notice. The recourse available to me in this case… I don’t know. I cannot afford to drill myself a bore-hole, there is no competing water provider that I can switch to so I am stuck with Kafubu.

Earlier this month I found myself arriving home after working hours to a home without water whilst when I left in the morning the resource was available to me. This happened four days in a row and that is how I found myself writing to NWASCO about this absurdity on the 7th January 2013. I had not been notified of any rationing of any sort and was incensed at the inconvenience of not being able to have a bath in the evening after a hard day and even having to negotiate the manner in which i should cook.

On 11 January 2013 a letter was drafted by Margaret Zulu, the PR Officer at Kufubu, to the consumers of Kafubu. A scanned copy of this letter is available as a download here(317kb) or as an attachment if you received this message via email.

Margaret Zulu informs myself, and other customers of her employer that there will be a water rationing schedule put into effect this month. She goes on to detail the reason why this is being done and mentions some particulars about the JICA project.

Now the rhetoric that has been churned out by the aforementioned PR officer is that this project has been spoken of and covered on television and radio since last year and residents of water rationed areas “should not be surprised”.

I will state however that no resident has ever objected to Kafubu bettering their infrastructure; in fact we welcome it. What we detest in the highest is being treated, for lack of a better term, like animal leavings.

I have NEVER come across a service provider that supplies something as crucial to life as water give 1 working days notice of a four day cut off of services. (The letter was drafted on Friday the 11th, the water cut off was supposed to start on Wednesdaty the 16th, but I did not have water from Tuesday the 15th). To me this is ONE working days notice; the Monday. No Margeret, it is not 5 days notice as you have apparently claimed in an email to another one of your consumers. Tell me how your notice helps me by arriving on a Friday if hypothetically I had to travel for the weekend and only arrived back on the Sunday evening or the Monday? PLEASE tell me Margaret.

I also have NEVER come across a service provider that organises a FIRST meeting about a situation affecting its consumers AFTER already deciding on all the particulars of the situation as well as DURING the situation affecting residents instead of prior.

This past week is the first time I heard of how much this project being undertaken by Kafubu would negatively impact me as a consumer and the service I pay good money for. It was the first time I heard about a schedule dictating when I would be able to have water. I was never consulted about this. (Please note that I do not refer to the project itself but how it negatively affects me as a consumer. These are two different things.)

It would appear that this effect was also unknown to all in my area; my niece was sent home from school because they did not have enough water to accomodate students 3 days in a row. I shudder to think what kind of effect this would have on those that care for someone disabled, ill or anyone that has special needs. I mention these because I honestly do not believe in any way that Kafubu made enough of an effort to mitigate the effect that the JICA project would have on their consumers.

This was compounded by the lack of organisation I saw at the meeting that Kafubu organised to speak to residents in the Itawa area. Less than 30 people showed up. Many did not receive the letter that I received and had not even seen the water rationing schedule TWO days into the exercise and asked to see my copy of the letter.

The meeting, managed by Margaret Zulu proceeded in English, at no point were those in attendance asked if they would be comfortable with English being used as the primary means of communication. As a result there was no person that voiced a concern in vernacular. I would be under the impression that anyone who had a grievance may have kept quiet for fear of not being able to communicate adequately.

To my horror Margaret Zulu spoke at times in this meeting in a condescending fashion, even to a gathering of people that not only contained the people that effectively pay her salary but individuals some of whom may have been twice her age. At one point she even talked over a consumer who was attempting to clarify a question they had just posed.

To further add to my shock she was not even adequately prepared for the meeting; admitting to not having brought with her a schedule for the movement of the fabled Kafubu water bowsers that would be making water available to residents and also not having a copy of the letter she had sent us just days prior. From her own mouth during the same meeting: “I am sorry we could not warn you about this three months ago, but you could not feel the effects of it yet.”. Margaret my dear … I do not have words. How dare you attempt to justify not communicating inconvenience to your consumers in a timely fashion. Even worse you say that I wasn’t told because it didn’t affect me as yet? HOW DARE YOU.

How dare you say to me that you spoke to community leaders about your plans or about anything concerning you providing me with water for that matter. When you want me to pay you you send the bill to ME. When I want water at my house I am the one that calls YOU to get YOU to come and connect it. The contract is between YOU and ME. I never went to a community leader to implore them to get you to supply me with water. Perhaps lawyers would be better at advising me of my rights but I DO BELIEVE YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO INFORM ME, NOT some “community leaders”. Then you have the nerve to claim that you make all the possible efforts you can to communicate with your consumers when this is the first letter I have received about any notice of interruption of supply?

I could go on but simply I am not happy. Neither are any of my neighbours. I could complain more and more but apparently the ears at Kafubu are deaf.
The fact that today, as I write this, is a Sunday and I have not had water since yesterday evening, contrary to the schedule Margaret Zulu publicly vaunted on National radio in an attempt to diffuse any damage caused by my own comments earlier on the same radio station, with no explanation or apology is proof enough that customer service is broken in my country. I feel sick (possibly from not having enough water).

T. H.
KafubuLetter 1Itawa, Ndola Resident.

Below is a letter from Kafubu Water and Sewage.