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Ratepayers set to pay more for water as eThekwini Municipality announces infrastructure levy

South African currency. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

South African currency. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 24, 2021


DURBAN - RESIDENTS of eThekwini will have to fork out more for services as the municipality has announced it is imposing a water and sanitation infrastructure levy to raise funds to upgrade its infrastructure.

It said ageing infrastructure affected the efficient supply of water and the treatment of sewage effluent.

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The levy will come into effect from the beginning of next month.

The state of infrastructure is a huge concern for the municipality, as it is struggling to meet growing demands.

However, the levy has come under fire from the opposition parties which said the levy was shifting the responsibility of infrastructure upgrades from the municipality to the residents.

“This levy was approved at a full council meeting on May 27. The infrastructure levy will be charged at an additional R1.50/kilolitre for water and R1.50/ KL for sewage disposal,” said municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.

“The levy will run for three years to raise about R1 billion that will be used to upgrade the water and sanitation infrastructure,” said Mayisela in a statement.

He said the municipality had experienced an increased number of faults at pump stations and treatment works which affected basic water services.

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“These faults can also be attributed to external factors including vandalism, load shedding and the population expansion in the municipality.

“The implementation of the levy will ensure continued operations and maintenance with increased reliability of the water supply. It will further ensure both financial viability and infrastructure sustainability to continue with uncompromised water and sanitation service delivery,” he said.

IFP councillor Prem Iyer said they were opposed to the levy and they had proposed that the municipality introduce a business levy instead.

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“We are opposed to this; it is being forced down the throats of poor ratepayers, the business levy would be paid by businesses based on their turnover and they are the biggest users,” he said.

He added that the municipality needed billions of rand to upgrade the city’s infrastructure.

“We are paying the price for poor planning. Every year they come up with a plan that is never implemented.”

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DA councillor Mzamo Billy said the levy was just shifting the municipality’s responsibility to ratepayers.

“We have rejected this thing; there have been many problems. The long water outages, burst pipes, leaks, all of those things contribute to us rejecting this levy as it will affect the poor.”

He said they were informed in committee meetings that the infrastructure had reached its lifespan and the municipality did not have the funds in its capital budget to fund the upgrades.

Dawie Roodt, an economist, said before a municipality can ask the taxpayers for more money, it has to make sure that its own house was in order, and its budget was prudently spent.

“Keeping their own house in order means the money has to be spent on the right things, at the right amount, it has to be spent on infrastructure so that the municipality does not come back to ask the residents to pay for something they should have maintained,” he said.

He said while he had not assessed the affairs of the eThekwini Municipality, he feared that it could be the case, like most other municipalities, that its own finances were not prudently managed.