Ratepayer fury as eThekwini switches to new electricity call centre system
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DURBAN - THE reason why residents have been struggling to reach the eThekwini Municipality’s electricity call centre is because the municipality is switching over to a new system.
Residents had complained that they were struggling to log faults when they called the call centre.
Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the call centre was being upgraded to improve communication services between the municipality and its clients.
“It should be noted that the call centre is not completely dysfunctional. We felt it was of paramount importance that we inform our residents that we are undergoing this process with the intention that we meet the needs of our customers who may be calling to log electricity or power supply faults,” Mayisela said.
He said they had not switched over to a new system but had begun the process.
On Saturday, the municipality had issued a statement on its social media platforms alerting the public that the city would be embarking on a major upgrade at the electricity call centre.
The municipality said the upgrade was a bid to improve communication, therefore the electricity call centre was switching to a new system.
However, that would probably cause frustration to residents battling to get through.
“The head of electricity has committed to increasing staff capacity on the WhatsApp groups where challenges can be reported. The projected time frame is two weeks and thereafter the call centre is expected to be back on track,” the municipality said.
On Wednesday, DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said the information they received from the electricity department was that the system transfer would only happen later on in the year.
“What was really happening now was a system failure. They are in the process of getting a business WhatsApp line which is something we suggested about 18 months ago.“
She said that at present the call centre was “effectively just failing”.
Ward councillor and Yellowwood Park Ratepayers Association chairperson Gavin Hegter said the upgrades were crucial because the current call centre was not functional and resulted in residents being unable to get through to report faults.
“Hopefully the new system will be more functional and user-friendly. Although upgrading the call centre is vitally important, I don’t know how much it is actually going to improve the service delivery,” said Hegter.
He said it was unfortunate that the switch would take two weeks.
Hegter was concerned about the cost to the city because of its current financial situation.
New Dawn Park Residents Association chairperson Anthony Pierce said the upgrade should have happened long ago. He said he felt the municipality had collapsed because there were numerous other issues that had gone unattended in the last five years.
“While it might be an attempt in the right direction, residents should have been informed about the intentions of the municipality. You don’t spring this on clients,” said Pierce.
The municipality said electricity-related faults can be lodged via email at [email protected], via WhatsApp at 076 791 2449, online at bit.ly/38HTRmL, call 080 311 1111 or use the eThekwini Smart App available for Android and iOS.