Petition against hikes in service tariffs handed to city

Published Apr 13, 2024


Durban — Thousands of eThekwini ratepayers have signed a petition calling on the municipality not to increase its service charges in the next few months.

This comes after the municipality announced that residents and businesses would be charged more for water, electricity, rates, sanitation and refuse collection from the beginning of July.

This week representatives of the eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association (ERRA) handed a list of signatures to the municipality to show the widespread support for the online campaign.

ERRA chairperson Ish Prahladh said residents were fed up and were not prepared to pay more for dwindling services and that this gave rise to their online petition on the website.

In addition, Prahladh said ratepayers, residents and businesses were still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, floods and riots and now they had to contend with high utility bills while the metro has an untrustworthy billing system.

“The speaker’s secretary signed for it and we handed them more than 10 200 signatures in a booklet form and our memorandum as well in the booklet. So the mayor and the speaker have to read that.

“We actually said to the secretary that this is only from the social media that we’ve got 10 200. If we go out and start shooting this out into every area, you’re going to get more than 100 000 signatures. So they’d rather look at the 10 200 and decide which way they’re going to go,” said Prahladh.

During his draft budget announced last month, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda announced across-the-board tariff hikes for the 2024/5 period. He said electricity would rise by 14%, water 14.9%, sanitation 12.9% and refuse 9.9%. The proposed rates hike is 7.9%.

Prahladh said that even though none of the ratepayer associations around the country had been successful in blocking price increases, in Durban they would continue to fight against it.

“I’ll be honest, nobody has stopped the increases because they work like a cartel, but we try our best. We’re saying to them,‘We understand you want to do an increase, but if you’re giving us 50% service delivery, then we should be paying you 50%’,” Prahladh said.

“We understand the municipality has to run. I've told them the big boys need to take a cut to the salary so they can put that money into the kitty again, because you can’t earn R250 000 a month. What the hell are you going to do with so much money? I am saying to the guys, listen, we are surviving with R10 000 to R20 000 a month, you can survive with a hundred grand a month. So you cut it, you take 50% of your salary and put 50% into the kitty.”

Prahladh said the municipality and those who installed the faulty billing system should be held accountable.

“The service provider must sort it out at their cost, not at the cost of the ratepayer and residents who are paying for their flops. Why can they not get a proper qualified technician to make the current system run smoother and save millions? They must remove estimated charges and get proper qualified meter readers monthly to make sure proper billing is done.”

Independent on Saturday