We won’t pay, say angry Durban residents

eThekwini residents say they will not pay increased tariffs until the City sorts out service delivery “100%”.

eThekwini residents say they will not pay increased tariffs until the City sorts out service delivery “100%”.

Published Mar 24, 2024


Durban — Fed-up Durban residents have railed against the municipality’s impending tariff hikes, saying they are not prepared to pay for non-existent services.

eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association (ERRA) chairperson Ish Praladh has urged citizens to sign their petition calling for a halt to increases, because it was unacceptable to pay more when they were receiving less.

“We are not prepared to pay those increases until you sort out those service delivery issues 100%. We are not asking you to sort it out 50%, we are not asking you to sort it out 80%; we want 100% service delivery, then you can increase it,” Praladh said.

During his draft budget report on Tuesday, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda announced across-the-board tariff increases for the 2024/5 period. He said electricity would increase by 14%, water 14.9%, sanitation 12.9% and refuse 9.9%.

The eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association responded with a petition the next day.

The document, on the change.org website, says: “In eThekwini Municipality specifically, there have been numerous complaints about inconsistent water supply, frequent power outages and disastrous sanitation practices. These issues disrupt our daily lives and hinder economic activities in our community.

“We believe it is unfair for the municipality to increase tariffs when they cannot deliver reliable services.

“We call on all residents of eThekwini Municipality to stand together against this proposed tariff increase until we see significant improvements in service delivery.”

Last year, the Westville Ratepayers Association and the municipality faced off in court after residents called for a rates boycott. The court ruled in favour of the City. Praladh said this time they were likely to be more successful with their petition, because the City wanted them to pay for services which did not exist.

“There is a law against that,” he said.

He told the Independent on Saturday that while they were unhappy with all the increases, it was the water increases in particular that were most worrying.

“Many places had no water for six months and we are paying a 14.9% increase for water when we never had water,” he said.

On Friday, taps in Pinetown and Overport were still dry, said Praladh, while many other areas were still battling with intermittent supply.

He urged everyone in the municipality to spread the word about the petition and get it signed.

“All of a sudden the reservoirs are running dry and there is no water coming through and there are burst water pipes all over the show. Some of these pipes have not been touched since the ANC came into power. We have asbestos pipes that are more than 50 years old underground so those are the pipes that are bursting,” he said.

Praladh said ERRA would meet the City’s head of water and sanitation, Ednick Msweli, on Tuesday and more signatures meant he would have more clout.

When announcing the budget increases, Kaunda said that while the majority of the people living in eThekwini had access to water, rapid urbanisation, ageing infrastructure and vandalism had strained the City’s resources.

“In short, the demand for water is exceeding the supply.”

Kaunda said the long-term solution to addressing the water challenges was the construction of the uMkomazi Dam.

Meanwhile, a Hillcrest pensioner has called on the municipality to do more to assist the elderly who were already struggling to pay their bills even before the new tariffs come into effect.

Clive George said he was horrified to learn of all the increases, especially the electricity price hike. He appealed to the municipality to assist pensioners by granting them an exemption or a rebate.

“Consumers and pensioners, in particular, are already hard-pressed and have little means of financing this increase. Pensioners receive no annual increases such as bonuses and salaries to finance such increases,” he said.

“This only becomes apparent once you are a pensioner – just how helpless pensioners are in such circumstances. Yet eThekwini Municipality has forged ahead unperturbed with such a substantial increase, which is way in excess of inflation and which in part appears may be partly due to, among other things, inefficiency,” said George.

People are invited to submit comments on the budget by emailing [email protected] or attending public consultations in their ward.

Residents who want to sign the petition against tariff increases can go to https://www.change.org/p/reject-ethekwini-municipality-s-tariff-increases.

Independent on Saturday