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Water leaks and clandestine connections cost the municipalities of Maputo, Matola and Boane around 2.7 million meticais a month (around US$43,970 at current exchange rates) , greatly weakening the finances of service provider Águas de Maputo (Maputo Water Company, AdM).
The phenomenon, which is by no means new, compromises AdM’s capacity to provide drinking water, subject since last January to restrictions due to the low levels at the Umbelúzi Water Treatment Station.
Mapping techniques employed by Maputo Water Company point to higher incidence of clandestine connections in peripheral and expanding districts. In Maputo, for example, the most problematic areas include Mafalala, Ferroviário, Polana-Caniço, Maxaquene, Aeroporto, Unit 7, Minkadjuine and Luís Cabral.
The same is true of the Patrice Lumumba, T-3, Bunhiça, Singatela, Língamo, Fomento, Tchumene 2 and Tsalala neighbourhoods in Matola municipality, and also of Matola-Rio, Campoane and Picoco in Boane.
AdM’s project and technical support manager José Barata says that data suggests there are about five thousand people consuming water illegally. The company spends around 26 million meticais a year repairing and expanding the water supply system.
In addition to the financial cost, damage to pipes supplying water to thousands of households constitutes a danger to public health, since it presents a risk of infiltration by disease-causing impurities.
In order to cope with the situation, AdM inspection teams have requested all those receiving water clandestinely to be officially connected to the water distribution system. In case of refusal or repeated infringements, the company will eliminate the connection.
According to AdM administrator Gildo Timoteo, the lack of adequate legal instruments to hold offenders accountable has led to cases of clandestine connections being treated lightly even when there is clear evidence.