Billing errors a big challenge for new Joburg finance MMC
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Johannesburg - Billing errors are the biggest challenge the City of Joburg’s new member of the mayoral committee for finance, Rabelani Dagada, faces.
Of the approximately 400 emails he receives daily, 90 percent relate to billing, he said.
Since he took over the portfolio, Dagada said that although there was no longer a billing crisis, there were many outstanding billing issues that were frustrating residents.
Those were mainly estimated readings and residents’ inability to get refunds from the municipality after the sale of their property.
Estimated readings, which according to the by-laws were allowed for six months for water and three months for electricity, were ridiculous, Dagada said.
“People are getting huge estimates for both water and electricity, and are expected to pay even though these readings are way above their average consumption. I intend to change these by-laws.
“In five years there should be no estimated readings with the rollout of the installation of smart meters. In fact, I would like to see prepaid and smart water meters throughout the city, including the northern suburbs.”
Dagada said staff issues were also of concern.
He has embarked on staff roadshows to look into what changes to implement.
“Many billing problems could be resolved quickly, but that is not happening.
“There appears to be a problem with some staff members, which is why we are conducting a skills audit. I have embarked on staff roadshows to see what the problems are.
“Many have expressed dis-satisfaction with the lack of training, others don’t feel appreciated. (They believe) the political leadership doesn’t care,” he said.
“The city’s employees, at all levels, should play a significant role to achieve the new plans and objectives we have set for the next five years. In fact, we will not be able to achieve any of these objectives if the staff aren’t fully involved. Human capital is the most important resource that the city has.”
Dagada appealed to his department’s employees to join him in rolling up their sleeves and working to achieve some of his major plans and objectives, which include:
- Increasing revenue collection.
- Improving revenue management and billing processes.
- Improving transparency in the procurement process.
- Increasing the participation of SMMEs in the city’s tenders.
- Introducing and implementing a debt ceiling.
- Improving governance and working towards the attainment of clean audits.
- Paying suppliers within 30 days of invoicing.
- Increasing awareness of the city’s extended social package policy.
- Profiling the city as being ready and open for business.
- Reducing operational expenditure through austerity measures.
Dagada recently paid a surprise visit to the city’s call centre, where he reminded the staff that they were the first point of contact customers had with the council, and as a result, they should serve their customers with pride and professionalism.