Investigative Reports

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Hargeisa Water Agency Stuns Customers with Mandate of a New $50 Water Meter

In a letter to its customers, Hargeisa Water Agency informed its customers that it has acquired new meters with new features that will benefit its customers. The letter informs customers that the new meters cost 50 US dollars and will be charged to the customers.

The letter states that the new meters will remove the guessing out of meter reading and that it will eliminates Water Agency staff’s need to access customer homes because the new meters can be read remotely and the new meter will provide accurate reading under any condition.

It is unclear what the Water Agency meant by guessed or estimated meter reading and if the customers have been overcharged in the past for water usage as a result of the inaccuracy of the meter reading by its staff and if customers will be reimbursed overcharges.

Although the letter is short on specifics regarding the new water meter and why the Water Agency is supplying it, the remote meter reading implies a smart meter possibly an Internet of Things, a technical capability Hargeisa Water Agency currently lacks. In the past, many government functions have been outsourced to third parties with ties to government officials. This includes land records management of Hargeisa Municipality to GEOSOL.

Mr. Hamse Khaire an opposition political activist who fiercely opposed an effort by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and a Chinese company to plant Castor plant in Tog Wajale and a candidate running for Parliament wrote “The job of the Water Agency is not to sell water meters instead; it should bring water to Hargeisa. After decades of water expansion projects, Hargeisa is still without water”.

Water availability has been sparse for Hargeisa residents for decades and the few that have access to the Water Agency’s services already own meters they have already purchased. Tens of millions have been spent on water expansion projects by donors for Hargeisa for the past decades. The current expansion project is funded by the German bank KfW.

Hargeisa Water Agency and the Ministry of Water Development have declined to comment on the new meter.

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