‘Litigation looms’ if Durban Metro billing system problems persist
In its assessment of the first and second quarters of the 2019/20 financial year, the committee said it has not been possible for the city to determine water losses for the period under review.
During Wednesday's virtual Exco meeting, councillors also heard that the city’s financial analysis for the water unit was hindered by the absence of legitimate water sales volumes.
“More than 1000 rates accounts have not been migrated to RMS due to the challenges associated with data cleansing processes. The Audit Committee recommended that a post-implementation review be performed on RMS as soon as possible,” said the report.
The RMS, which became operational in 2016, has reportedly left many ratepayers unhappy over the years, after they were given inflated utility bills.
In response to the report, the city said all the incorrect meter readings were being investigated.
On the post-implementation review audit, they said they were working on a process to obtain an independent service provider to undertake the process on RMS, but this had been interrupted by the lockdown.
The IFPs Mdu Nkosi said the city was opening itself up for litigation if it did not resolve the RMS billing system.
“One day traumatised residents will take the city to court to challenge the amount resulting from estimated meter readings,” he said.
“As a councillor, I have cases where people would demand to know how the city had reached the amount they were billed for.
“How many years has the city been saying it is fixing this system? This needs a thorough investigation because it is questionable that the municipality would sit with a problem system that continues to stress ratepayers,” Nkosi said.
He said only decisive officials who were not scared to make unpopular decisions can fix the city’s billing system.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said the party had requested that the city not move to disconnect people from the services on July 1, as had recently been announced.
“We have asked for this not to be done unless bills have been read, and the consumer has had a chance to ensure individual bills are accurate, and not estimates.
“A lot of problems remaining with the RMS stem from the failure of line departments to input correct information into the system,” Graham said.