Cape Town - Mayor Patricia de Lille has raised the ire of Capetonians after she suggested a special water tax, over and above their normal water bill, to fill the city council’s coffers.
She said the city was investigating the possibility of charging a special levy because consumers were saving water so well that they were now paying less, affecting the city’s budget.
“There are people who have been telling us that they don’t mind paying an extra levy on their rates. As you can see, the city needs the money to be building new water schemes and regular maintenance needs to be done on the water infrastructure,” De Lille said.
However, she said nothing was final.
“We are still looking at the modelling of this. One also needs to remember that this will not be a continuous rule. This will also be done with the increase of tariffs, but we can only increase the tariffs once a year,” De Lille said.
Experts from the World Bank together with the mayor’s special water task team are working on solutions to gain greater income from the sale of water. Among the proposals are whether such a special levy should be introduced once, whether it should be an amount per household or per person, and whether it will be a fixed amount.
De Lille said consumers who had been saving water havd decreased the income and that the money was needed for water projects.“There will be a public participation process and should it be approved, it will possibly be coming into effect in January,” she said.
Milnerton resident Farouk Cassim said: “I’m more concerned about the poor, so this will be highly problematic for the poor and the working class."
John Botha from Southfield said: “I am not prepared to pay more.They have taken our free water and they have taken away our privileges. I get a pension and my pension has not grown but everything has gone up.”
Peter Louwrens from Fish Hoek said that because the situation was so dire, residents had no alternative: “Something drastic needs to happen so if this helps, then I’ll pay more.”
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said: “This will have a huge impact on the poor. All the measures the city has introduced have been unfair towards the poor.”
He added that the city should scrap its Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP).
“The mayor wasted millions to create high-paid jobs for DA cronies. They must cancel ODTP and use the money for the water levy,” he said.
De Lille has also announced that Day Zero has been pushed back from March to May. On that day residents will have to collect a certain amount of drinking water per person from collection sites across the city.