The service provider GNUC

The concession, a joint venture between Nuon, a Dutch utility company, and BiWater, a British multinational water company, has 48 percent of the shares of the Greater

Nelspruit Water Company (GNUC). The early achievements of the concession included the provision of a 24-hour water supply to township communities, previously on intermittent supply. Service levels were upgraded to yard taps with outdoor flush toilets and water-borne sanitation. Despite these achievements, the lack of community support has haunted the concession since its inception. The most significant service delivery challenge facing BiWater is low levels of payment, as low as 8 percent and 35 percent respectively in Matsulu and KaNyamanzane, with 98 percent in the white town of Nelspruit (BiWater credit control officer, personal communication, 25 February 2003). BiWater has enforced strict credit control measures to improve payment levels in poor areas, not recognizing the failure to deal with the complexity of politics and poverty as one of the main reasons for non-payment. The recent .credit control measures have included water cut-offs, removing meters and portions of pipes to prevent illegal reconnections, and reducing the township's 24-hour supply to intermittent hours throughout the day and night. Township residents responded to these credit control measures by reconnecting illegally and intimidating BiWater's workers when they entered the townships to maintain the infrastructure.

The low payment rates for water nearly brought the concession to a premature close in 2003, only five years into a 30-year contract. Community resistance, both non-payment and the intimidation of workers, severely limited the GNUC's cost recovery efforts, let alone its ability to operate water services properly since workers were impeded from reading water meters or opening and closing water valves. In 2003, the primary shareholder of GNUC, CASCAL, said that it would not provide more capital investments to BiWater to resume new infrastructure spending until payment levels in the townships reached 50 percent.

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