Mbeya Urban legislator Benson Mpesya (CCM) has called on the government to provide free water services so they can be enjoyed by all the people, including law-income earners.
Mpesya made the call here on Wednesday when debating the budget estimates of the ministry of Water and Irrigation for fiscal year 2010/2011.
The budget amounting to 251,535,392,000/- was tabled by Water and Irrigation minister Prof. Mark Mwandosya.
Mpesya said although water was a crucial resource for everybody, its cost has been increasing, thus making low-income earners unable to afford it.
“We should reach at a point where water costs are done away with or drastically reduced,’ he said.
He said in other developed countries services such as water and electricity were provided for free, but for a country like Tanzania it was impossible to provide water for free.
“I don’t recommend that electricity also be provided for free, but for a resource like water it is possible,” he said.
He said 80 per cent of Tanzanians were low-income earners, hence removing water charges would help them access the liquid.
Shadow minister for Water and Irrigation Mhonga Ruhwanya said the water problem affected most poor Tanzanins in both rural and urban, thus exercebating their poverty.
She said people in urban areas spend between 10,000/- and 300,000/- per day, depending on the size of the family, to buy water.
She said 9.8 per cent of a poor person's monthly income was spent on purchasing water while a rich family spent only 3 per cent of the income on water.
Ruhwanya said that the percentage differ due to the fact that a rich family is capable of buying water from the water tanks.
Contributing to the budget estimates, Kigoma Urban lawmaker Peter Serukamba (CCM) advised the government to use its own funds in implementing water projects instead of depending on donors.
“We should stop depending on donors for implementing water projects in solving water problem in the country. The government should allocate its own funds in implementing these projects,” he said.
Serukamba said that the green revolution would not be achieved if the country continued to rely on rains.
He said the country needed to invest heavily in irrigation schemes if it was to turn the Agriculture First initiative into reality.
Chalinze legislator Ramadhani Maneno said the budget allocated to the ministry was small, thus causing it fail to implement water projects on time.
He called on the government to increase the budget to enable the ministry implement more water projects.