The City Harare this week announced that it was resuming collection of dog and bicycle fees from residents who own dogs and bicycles. For some residents, it came as a surprise because they were not aware that dogs and bicycles pay fees to the municipality.
Some of the residents were actually shocked to hear or read that dog owners and bicycle owners were now required to pay fees for their dogs and bicycles. We already knew these fees exist but what came as a surprise for us and obviously other ratepayers and residents is the fact that the municipality was for several years not collecting the fees yet it always whines about lack of revenue to fund service delivery.
The announcement actually appears as an after-thought on the part of the city authorities yet residents who love dogs and those who own bicycles are supposed to pay the requisite fees to the municipality. We wonder how many more fees or charges, the municipality has not been collecting over the years.
In 2019, a broke City of Harare suddenly remembered that residents of new suburbs were supposed to pay a fee to acquire a certificate of occupation upon completing building their houses.
Some of the residents who trooped to Cleveland House along Leopold Takawira Street, which houses the council’s building inspectorate, were actually surprised that they had lived in their new houses for periods ranging from five years, a decade to two decades yet council never bothered to inform them about the fee for the certificate of occupation.
But the 2019 letters of demand clearly showed the City of Harare’s desperate attempts to milk some revenue from residents and owners of buildings whether commercial or industrial because at that period, the municipality was not generating much from rates as most residents either did not pay because they could not afford or were just boycotting because the municipality was not providing services such as water, refuse collection and maintaining roads.
The dog and bicycle fees mean Harare residents who own at least a dog and a bicycle will now have to fork out an extra $2 500 on their bills, with the figure rising if one has additional dogs or bicycles.
Figures availed by Harare City Council this week show that a bicycle licence costs $1 250 per year while one will pay $1 310 for a tricycle and $1 875 for a pushcart.
For dog licences, a male one will be taxed $1 250, spayed female $940, unspayed female $1 000 and taxi badge $3 125.
The City of Harare made the announcement on its official Twitter handle sparking fierce debate with some residents expressing their ignorance on the fact that these were lawful fees in terms of the city by-laws while others wondered why the City of Harare was not collecting the fees all along. We also wonder how many more fees and charges the municipality is not collecting yet pleading financial incapacitation when residents demand services.
We also hope council will put more cycle tracks especially in the new suburbs that have been built in Harare and ensure the tracks exist on all major roads in the city. Otherwise bicycle owners will see no reason to pay the fees.