Public and government aided schools have requested to be charged lower prices on water they consume, arguing that the current tariffs are high.
They say that water expenditure is projected to rise in September 2020 when they are expected to reopen because they will need to use more water in a bid to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This issue was also exposed by the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth which was approved by Parliament on June 12, 2020.
The report was based on the assessment tours that the Committee made from February 03 to 14, 2020 in provinces and the City of Kigali in order to evaluate and monitor issues in education.
Speaking to The New Times, Nicodème Twahirwa, the head teacher of Ecole des Sciences Louis de Montfort Nyanza in Nyanza District said that the school has 678 students and that it spends between Rwf600,000 and Rwf700,000 on water per month.
The school consumes more than 50 m3 per month, and it is classified in the non-residential category.
The current water tariffs set by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) are based on the monthly water consumption by cubic metre (m3) whereby a flat rate of Rwf323 is charged on a m3 for public tap, while water for non-residential category ranges from Rwf877 a m3 for water use that does not exceed 50 m3, and Rwf895 a m3 for water that is above 50 m3 per month.
Such tariffs exclude value added tax (VAT). Twahirwa said that when VAT of 18 percent is included, the school pays more than 1,000 a m3.
“Water is costly for us. Schools are considered as commercial institutions that make a lot of profit like hotels where customers pay more on water such as on use of swimming pools,” he said.
“We should be classified in the category of public tap,” he appealed, indicating that a lot of water is consumed at schools to meet students’ drinking water needs, washing clothes, and preparing meals.
He also said that the hygiene practice mainly consisting of washing hands frequently in order to prevent Covid-19 pandemic, is likely to drive water consumption higher.
Martin Mbonigaba, the head teacher of Groupe Scolaire Muhoza in Musanze District of Northern Province said that the school has more than 2,200 students in both primary and secondary levels.
He said that the school spends about Rwf90,000 on water per month because it’s a day school, pointing out that the expenditure would be far higher if it was a boarding one.
But, he indicated that expenses will significantly increase when students return to school in September as a larger amount of water will be needed to meet hygiene needs to combat Covid-19.
“All students will have to wash hands when they enter the school. As a result, the school will incur more expenses from increased water volume,” he said, estimating that the costs could reach Rwf300,000 per month.
MP Damien Nyabyenda, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth told The New Times that the issue was identified in different schools, pointing out that they need support to get the water charges lowered.
“High water tariffs make some schools pay more than Rwf500,000 on water monthly. The schools should be put in the public tap category so that they pay less per water used,” he said.Follow https://twitter.com/EmNtirenganya