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Durban - A probe of the eThekwini Municipality’s multimillion-rand revenue management system has begun in earnest.
The system is yet to go live despite the municipality investing nearly R500 million in the technology.
“We want to know whether the city should continue with this system or not,” municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole said yesterday. “Also, if we continue with the system, we need to know exactly what it is that we are pumping money into, and what assurance do we have that it will be efficient.”
Sithole said a multi-disciplinary team of information technology specialists and chartered accountants – hired at a cost of R900 000 – was expected to complete its investigation into the system by the middle of next month.
Costing R474 million so far, the high-tech computerised revenue management system has been a contentious issue with councillors and city officials alike, because of constant delays in its implementation.
Delays in developing the system and changes to its original specifications have been blamed for the cost ballooning from R150m to R474m.
It was approved by the city’s executive committee in 2004, and was intended to manage several other systems, including billing and revenue collection, debt management and disconnection of services.
Once it goes live, it will replace the existing Coin Billing System.
The postponements of the implementation date have irked opposition parties, which have repeatedly urged the city to consider pulling the plug on the system.
Last month, Sithole said the system remained a “risk issue”.
He feared that if the system was not tested properly, the city could be faced with a crisis similar to that in Johannesburg, where residents had been billed with incorrect amounts.
Earlier this year, the Manase forensic report found that the awarding of a R44m tender for system support had been flawed, with the city’s supply chain management policy not adhered to.
Sithole said it was critical for the city to establish if any additional costs would be incurred, including to maintain the system annually.
Once the investigation was completed, the “tough” decision would be taken on whether to go ahead with the project,
“It won’t be an easy decision, but it’s a decision that has to be made,” Sithole added. “If we decide to continue with it we can’t incur more costs. If we do, we will need to decide what areas can be compromised without affecting the functionality of the system.”
Considering the investigators’ workload, the R900 000 remuneration that had been sourced from the project budget was a “modest” figure, Sithole said.
“We need to get to the bottom of this soon,” he said. “This matter has dragged on long enough.” - Daily News