THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has increased its service charges by between 150% and 626% following approval of the local authority’s 2022 budget by government.

Residents have expressed concern over the high charges saying they came at a time when they were already economically burdened.

Last week, government approved BCC’s 2022 budget of $23,8 billion.

Council had proposed a $24,7 billion budget before Local Government minister July Moyo cut it by $900 million to $23,8 billion.

Yesterday, acting town clerk Sikhangele Zhou announced the percentage increases.

“The City of Bulawayo wishes to advise its valued customers that the City of Bulawayo’s 2022 budget has been approved by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works.

“Charges will go up with effect from February as follows: domestic rates 150%, non-domestic rates 177%, domestic water 150%, non-domestic water 180%, sewage 150%,” Zhou said.

“Solid waste management 150%; non-domestic solid waste management 160%; admission fees to stadia and swimming pools 450%; hire of council facilities 450%; patients fees for use of an ambulance 450%; cession fees 450%; shop licence 450% increase on 2021 tariffs; liquor licence 450%; garage licence 450%; trading permits 450%; route approval and development permits 450%; inspection fees and any other licences 450%; council rated properties 250%, sale of pit sand and precast products 626%.”

National Consumer Rights Association advocacy advisor Effie Ncube said the increases were unacceptable.

“This is an unacceptable burden on the residents of Bulawayo, not only is it unaffordable, but it is completely uncalled for given the fact that people are unemployed and the generally skyrocketing cost of living which has eroded the disposable incomes of Bulawayo residents.

“So the City of Bulawayo must look at alternative sources of revenue and not depend on the people,” he said.

“The people have no money, they can’t pay, they won’t pay, so Bulawayo must develop business entities that are going to be alternative sources of revenue, instead of depending on ratepayers who are the majority poor people in the City of Bulawayo.”

Ncube said the tariff increases were unaffordable and unjustified.

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