File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The President of the Cape Chamber, Janine Myburgh says that there is no justification for the City of Cape Town’s proposed drought levy. 

This comes after Mayor Patricia de Lille just last month mentioned plans on introducing a drought levy, in light of the acute drought experienced across the city. 

The additional tax will be calculated based on a property’s value. The funds is said to fund the city’s water augmentation schemes. 

Residents were initially given until January 12, 2018 to comment on the additional charge. 

On Tuesday, however, the city announced that it is extending time for public comment on the water levy by three days, until January 15, 2018. 

Outraged residents have already taken to the public comment platform and voiced their dissent. 

So far, only 45 000 comments have been received to date, January 10. 

READ ALSO: #WaterCrisis: Drought levy to cover R1.6bn hole in City's budget

In a letter of objection to the additional levy, Myburgh yesterday said the City should find ways to reduce it costs, just as any private sector company would do in these circumstances. 

“We reject the idea that some form of surcharge on water users would be appropriate to cover the revenue shortfall. You cannot punish customers for buying less of what the City cannot supply anyway. The water problem is the result of poor Council planning and it is the Council that must pay, not the victims”, says Myburgh. 

She says that the proposed levy suggests that the City regards the sale of water as a trading operation to produce revenue. 

Taking into account that over the past 10 years, water tariff increases have been well above the inflation rate, the additional revenue poses a burdened expense to residents. 

“We further reject the idea of basing an extra fee on the valuation of property. Many property owners have gone to great lengths to save water. They have installed well points, grey water systems and bought tanks to capture rain water. They are deserving of our gratitude for their water savings, at their own cost, will mean more water will be available for others. They should be rewarded”, said Myburgh. 

Myburgh further warned the Council that it should prepare itself for lower water sales and revenue. This is due to commerce and industry which has made investments in water capturing and water saving facilities. 

“In these circumstances a new long-term approach to the distribution and sale of water in urban areas is required. We urge the City Council to take the lead and set up a team of officials and experts from the academic world and the private sector to devise a plan for the efficient and productive use of water, complete with targets for the recycling of an increasing percentage of water as well as a road map for the increasing use of desalination.

“We see this as an opportunity for the City to take the lead and to show the country what can be achieved with imagination, good long-term planning and the use of improving technology”, concluded Myburgh. 

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