DURBAN - THE Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal has been called to investigate the scale of incorrect and unfair billing in the province.
DA spokesperson on co-operative governance Chris Pappas made this call in a letter to MEC Sipho Hlomuka after the party had found that billing was a key challenge, with most municipalities failing to provide an adequate and fair billing service to residents.
Last year, the Daily News reported that Merebank resident Ramesh Laldeo had received an eThekwini metro bill for R1.4 million which had been as a result of a series of problems where in 2016, he experienced problems with a faulty water meter at his home and received high bills.
This was while another resident, Siveni Naidoo, said she had to deal with a R2.1m metro bill in 2018.
However, even after talking to eThekwini officials, they were slapped with a R26 000 metro bill and had to pay R3800 in cash.
In September, The Post reported that Danny, 67, and Veronica Padayachee, 58, of Phoenix received a utility bill of R14 700 from eThekwini, which was four times more than what they would usually pay.
eThekwini’s billing system, Revenue Management System (RMS), cost the city about R600m and was introduced in 2016, to replace the old Coins system.
Pappas on Tuesday said they had run a survey of more than 770 respondents from across the province and findings were that their councillors were inundated monthly with complaints over incorrect billing.
“Key findings include that 47% of residents are receiving estimated bills, 26% of residents indicated their water meters are never read, 29% of residents indicated their electricity meters are never read, 28% of municipal self-reporting services do not work, and 19% of respondents have received an incorrect bill more than once, while 12% say every bill is wrong,” said Pappas.
He said the findings were shocking and alarming, and the DA was worried that KZN’s residents were being unfairly treated by inefficient and ineffective revenue management services.
“It also affects the financial viability of municipalities. The DA calls on MEC Hlomuka to put the people of KZN first and investigate the scale,” he said.