City of Cape Town ditching water meter devices
Cape Town - The City’s phasing out of water meter devices (WMDs) was long overdue and an admission of a failed strategy it pursued for 15 years, lobby group STOP COCT has said.
The group was commenting on the City’s proposed draft budget for the 2021/22 financial year that has been tabled for public participation.The City has extended the comment period to May 3.
The City’s Water and Sanitation Department proposed that from July the City will not install WMDs, and that those currently in service will be replaced by conventional meters with the latest metering technology.
Mayoral committee member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said the current economic pressure on residents, urbanisation trends and the growth of backyard tenants, and increasingly crowded conditions in many communities were considered.
She said the City was proposing to adapt the domestic metering approach to provide a better balance between financial sustainability and ensuring that vulnerable residents had adequate access to water.
Sandra Dickson of STOP COCT said the tariff increases were devastating for already cash-strapped consumers.
“The City’s budget grew by 12.7% from R50.1 billion to R56.48bn, and this was because of a major increase in bulk water purchases from R500 million to R2.5bn annually. This is alarming and either a mistake or the budget is deliberately inflated to justify the increase in tariffs.
“The City is not budging an inch on the public’s resistance to the water and electricity levies, but instead opted to increase them, though the much-hated WMD is scrapped,” she said.
Dickson said the City should be familiar with the history of leaks and the hardship it brings, particularly underground leaks.
“The underground leaks usually result in humongous water bills. The City should also investigate some type of group insurance for customers to claim from for leaks. The ageing water infrastructure begs such a proactive solution,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Goodwood Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association said the draft budget showed very little empathy for the elderly.
“According to the Auditor-General, the City underspent on their operating budget by R1.5bn, as well as their capital budget by R738m, because this City worked very little for us during Covid-19.
“We struggled to get help, attention, assistance during this time – we escalated, we begged, we pleaded – but couldn’t raise help because it was Covid-19.
“With R1.5bn being underspent, the only conclusion is that very little was done for the residents other than solid waste and metro services,” the association said.
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