Staff stand-off with city officials leave residents unable to pay their bills
DURBAN - RATEPAYERS were left red-faced when the eThekwini Municipality electricity customer service centre was closed for two days this week, and no contingency plans were put in place to assist them.
Approximately 20 staff in the centre downed tools after the City allegedly did not decontaminate the building on Jeff Taylor Crescent after an employee tested Covid positive. The centre re-opened yesterday.
The centre was closed on Monday, and when staff arrived for work on Tuesday, they heard it had not been decontaminated. Approximately 200 people visit the centre daily to pay utility bills and make enquiries. Previously, the building had been decontaminated when a staffer tested positive.
Disgruntled customers expressed their outrage outside the electricity department building when the Daily News arrived. Most of them arrived on Monday only to be told it would open on Tuesday. A KwaMashu resident, who did not want to be named, said it was inconsiderate for them to close because of the inconvenience it had caused her.
“They do not show any sense of remorse,” she quipped.
Zahir Aboo said he did not have the benefit of taking a few hours off work to stand in the queues.
“Some of us use public transport or meter taxis. No doubt, safety first, but they should have put up a tent or table outside and set up their equipment to help us with our queries. They should have used one of the offices in the huge building in front,” Aboo said.
Saajid Razaa described it as crazy and the norm in the city when it came to service delivery. He said there were no alternative venues and insufficient parking outside Florence Mkhize Building, formerly called Martin West.
“If you don’t pay your bills on time, they cut your supply. Have an alternative layout. Technology has made it easy. There is no contingency planning and forward-thinking here. They should look at how to improvise. Nobody compensates us for the time and resources, like fuel for a motor vehicle to keep coming here,” Razaa said.
Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said service delivery was not affected by the closure of one of the service centres as necessary arrangements were made for customers to be redirected to other service centres that are open.
“The service centre was fumigated, but staff raised concerns. However, after consultation with relevant departments, the centre was decontaminated again to the satisfaction of all staff,” Mayisela said.