Outrage over double-digit tariff hikes by City grows

Ratepayers have called on the City to get creative in revenue generation to avoid imposing such steep hikes.

Ratepayers have called on the City to get creative in revenue generation to avoid imposing such steep hikes.

Published May 24, 2024


As outrage grows over the eThekwini municipality’s decision to impose double-digit tariff increases, ratepayers have called on the City to get creative in revenue generation to avoid imposing such steep hikes.

Several ratepayer organisations that spoke to “The Mercury” said they had not settled on the course of action, but they are planning to fight the tariff increases that are coming to effect on July 1.

Last month, the municipality passed the budget for the 2024-2025 financial year with the new tariffs.

These tariffs for water, electricity, sanitation and rates were lower than the ones that had been initially proposed.

The ratepayers said the very slight decrease was insignificant as the tariffs were still in double digits and unaffordable.

The uMhlanga Ratepayers Association said the municipality should expect a flood of objections from the public, and the eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association (ERRA) said the City needs to look for alternative sources of revenue other than ratepayers.

Ish Prahladh, the president of ERRA, stressed that despite the decrease, the tariffs approved were still in double digits and many of the residents could not afford them.

“A businessman or well-to-do individual can cope with these increases, but there are many people who cannot. There are the elderly who bought houses years ago that have appreciated in value, the people who lost their jobs either through Covid-19 or the riots, those people are battling.

“We are saying that the City should get creative on generating revenue so that it does not have to pass on double-digit increases to residents.

“Look at a building like the City Hall, which used to be rented out for weddings and other functions, but today that does not happen. It has become a white elephant.

“We are losing close to R600 million in water (non-revenue water) every day. Yet they want to spend millions on new cars. Those are the savings that the City needs to be making to avoid high tariff increases. We do not accept these increases,” Prahladh said.

Terri MacLarty of the uMhlanga Ratepayers Association said they understood some ratepayers organisations are considering legal action.

“We will look at what they are doing and if it is legal and within the law, we will back them. They want this overturned.

“We fought tooth and nail against this. We went to four meetings with the City officials. The municipality reduced (the percentages of the increases) of these tariffs a little because they knew that this would happen. The community is extremely unhappy and many objections will be lodged,” she said.

“We are dealing with many other problems, we are dealing with the sewage leaks that are destroying our tourism.”

Janus Horn, of the Manor Gardens Ratepayers Association, said they strongly objected to any increase.

“We pay rates for services that we do not receive. Normally if you don’t get services, you change providers or you pay for the services that you receive.

“Getting an increase is simply not acceptable if the service you pay for is not given to you.”

Asked whether the ratepayers are considering any action, Horn said: “Nothing is planned at present, but I am sure something will happen.”

The eThekwini mayor’s office had not responded to requests for comment by deadline on Thursday.

The Mercury