By Nokuthaba Dlamini
Victoria Falls Municipality says there is slow uptake of online payment platforms by residents a situation that has affected service delivery.
The local authority, which is owed over ZWL$54 million in unpaid rates by residents, encouraged residents to settle their bills using online payment methods during the national lockdown but very few have made use of the platform.
The Council’s Public and Economic Development officer Ngqabutho Moyo told Cite that as a result, the local authority has been working under a very thin budget, compromising service delivery especially in the current outbreak of coronavirus.
Moyo said to sustain its operations, the council is relying on donor contributions, mainly from the tourism players as government has not stepped in to assist.
“Debtors are standing at ZWL$54million as at 29 February 2020,” he said.
“The uptake of online payments is very slow; very few people are utilising the platforms. We have received various donations from different stakeholders, and more are still trickling in; hence we are still in the process of compiling a consolidated list of contributions, but however, we have not received any cushioning of any sort from central government, and this will compromise services delivery.”
Council, in collaboration with the tourism sector and other private stakeholders, came together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic by providing food, tents, beds, blankets among other necessities to the resort town’s quarantine centres in Mkhosana and Chinotimba.
In Mkhosana, Beat Aids private institution donated its facility to be used to treat patients, while the Council has made available its Mkhosana Clinic.
Mosi-Oa-Tunya High School, a council-run school is being used as a quarantine centre for citizens who are returning home from the diaspora.
As of Monday, Matabeleland North Provincial office reported that a total of 49 returnees were housed at the school.
“Generally, the residents are heeding the call to stay at home, though again there is a need to improve on issues of social distancing, especially in queues. Some are not adhering to the call to stay at home as they are, in some instances compelled by the need to search for essential commodities,” said Moyo.
Currently, the council is embarking on disinfecting public areas in the resort town.
“People are encouraged to stay indoors during the spraying process and avoid contact with sprayed surfaces,” Moyo cautioned.
“Hydro-peroxide is an effective disinfectant currently being used the world over in the fight against COVID 19. However, the chemical needs to be handled with care as it is corrosive; hence the need for people to observe preventive measures being announced by the disinfecting team to avoid direct contact. Otherwise, if the chemical is correctly handled, it is safe.”
Moyo said they were satisfied with all their efforts, though there is a need for “more support, especially in our isolation centres where we need ventilators and oxygen cylinders.”