Msunduzi rates defaulters to face the music
DURBAN - RATEPAYERS in Msunduzi Municipality are in for a shock as the municipality considers implementing aggressive collection measures, including removing their infrastructure from the homes of defaulting residents.
The municipality said it was losing large amounts of revenue by estimating charges as some ratepayers were not granting access to meter readers.
The municipality warned that it would now be forced to call some of these ratepayers after hours to demand access to meters, adding that “neighbours should coerce their neighbours” into doing the right thing.
It said it was also considering cutting padlocks on the meters that had them. The municipality’s consumer debt stands close to R5billion.
The municipality has also faced accusations that it was only targeting a fraction of the population for collections while the rest enjoyed free services. This contributes to the city’s financial crises as it does not recover the money that was spent, especially on bulk purchases.
Recent reports have revealed that more than 50% of the city’s bulk purchase services such as water and electricity were stolen.
Chief financial officer Nelisiwe Ngcobo said they had sent letters to 5 000 ratepayers demanding access to their meters – if they failed to comply, these meters would be disconnected.
“We have discovered that the municipality is losing a lot of money because these meters are estimated. We have also found that there are businesses that are (getting) estimated charges and the directive is that they must be disconnected,” she said.
A report on meter reading showed that over the past few months more meters were being read.
In December, it found that 71% of the meters had been read and that for 29%, charges had been estimated.
This translated to 78 541 meters being read.
A further breakdown shows for 15 916 electricity meters, charges were estimated, 2 028 were faulty or damaged, and 13 888 could not be accessed either because consumers refused access, the city could not locate the meter, or the meter readers could not locate the property.
“On December 17, we submitted a priority list which had about 329 meters to be attended by the electricity department,” it said.
“We are busy looking at three reports,from October to December, for all customers where there is no access, so as to call those customers after hours to give us access, failing which we will submit the list to electricity via Credit Control Policy to have those meters disconnected,” it said.
Municipal manager Madoda Khathide said the city would consider removing its cables from the home of a ratepayer who was not complying.
“This step has serious financial implications and would be implemented as the last resort,” he said.
He said some properties had split cables and if they cut one cable that would affect the other property that was complying with the municipal by-laws, so the city had been reluctant to take this step.