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Durban - If you live in Durban, the water in your taps and electricity to your home are going to cost you more this year.

Also set to increase are charges for refuse removal and sanitation and the rates you pay on your home – adding further financial pain to consumers buckling under pressure from recent fuel and interest rates hikes.

The city’s proposed increases – all above the inflation rate – were contained in the R36.5 billion draft budget presented to members of the executive committee and councillors at a full council meeting yesterday.

The draft budget is to be put out for public comment, and is expected to be passed by the council on May 29.

It was adopted by the majority of councillors yesterday. IFP councillors were not present as they had walked out earlier following a dispute with Speaker Logie Naidoo over an unrelated matter.

The draft budget proposes tariff increases of 7.39 percent for electricity, 9.9 percent for domestic water, 12.9 percent for water consumption by businesses, 7.9 percent for refuse removal and sanitation, and 6.9 percent for rates.

In a report to exco on the draft budget, city manager S’bu Sithole said the rise in water tariffs was because of overtime payments for workers repairing ageing infrastructure, emergency breakdowns, and damage by vandals and unseasonal storms.

Delays in filling vacancies had increased the bill for overtime.

Also, Umgeni Water, which provided the city with bulk water, was planning to increase its tariff by 8.3 percent.

The tariff for sanitation services was also being increased to help cover overtime payments and the executive packages that had to be paid because deputy head posts had been created.

The hike in the electricity tariff was due to an Eskom increase of 8.06 percent. The municipal tariff increase was based on the national energy regulators’ recommendation.

Sithole played up many of the city’s achievements, saying that since 1994, 325km of new roads had been surfaced, 340km of gravel had been replaced with “black top”, and 148 housing projects had been developed, with 175 000 houses and 16 clinics being built.

The DA’s caucus leader, Zwakele Mncwango, said the budget was a “good document for elections”. While he accepted most of the proposed tariff increases, he questioned why a 12.9 percent increase in water charges was being proposed for businesses.

“This will be passed on to consumers,” Mncwango said.

“This type of increase contradicts your vision for creating jobs because business will take into account all these increases before employing people. This will have a huge impact on businesses who want to operate in eThekwini.”

Patrick Pillay, of the Minority Front, said the tariff increases were too high for the average Durban resident.

“I don’t agree with it at all.”

Nigel Gumede, of the ANC, said the DA was jumping the gun as the tariffs were proposals that needed to be taken to communities for input before being passed.

He took aim at Mncwango for talking on behalf of businesses, saying they would have a chance to comment.

DA councillor Heinz de Boer disagreed. He said that despite the public consultation processes each year, the budget was passed without changes.

Deputy mayor Nomvuso Shabalala said the city did listen to the public.

“If the information from the public is not guided we can’t implement it.”

City Treasurer Krish Kumar said that in the past two years the city had reduced tariffs in response to public comment.

Daily News