The government has expressed shock at the high water tariffs in Beitbridge saying a commission has since been constituted to investigate and come up with recommendations to address the anomaly.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Mr George Mlilo was in Beitbridge today to meet town council management and councillors over the current water crisis in the border town.

The installation of prepaid bulk water meters by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has seen the local authority providing portable water two times a week to residents as it generates about US$10 000 instead of US$60 000 to meet its weekly requirements.

Council buys water from ZINWA at US$0.92 cents per cubic metre and sells it to residents at US$1.20 per cubic meter, a tariff government has described as unacceptable.

Beitbridge town council secretary, Mr Loud Ramakgapola has also disputed the US$13 million that the local authority owes ZINWA, adding that the dual ownership of water should also be addressed as it has failed to work.

Fears are rife that the border town could face a health crisis, the magnitude of the cholera outbreak of 2008 that claimed hundreds of lives if the water woes continue.

The town has a population of over 40 000 and its transit population stands at about 14 000 people.