Residents in west of Pretoria won’t allow power disconnections
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Pretoria - City contractors will not be allowed to disconnect residents’ electricity and read meters until the City sorts out erroneous bills and responds to a request for a flat rate.
This is the stance of township residents in the west of Pretoria, who said they were frustrated by high municipal bills based on the estimation billing system that has seen many being disconnected.
As a result, a group of elderly homeowners gathered outside the municipality’s offices in Atteridgeville last week to hand over a memorandum demanding that they be allowed to pay a flat rate of R300, but yesterday they said they were still awaiting an official response.
However, the City said it had no policy or special arrangements to allow certain people to pay flat rates, and it was not considering something like that at present.
The chairperson of the Lotus Gardens, Atteridgeville, Saulsville Civic Association, Tshepo Mahlangu, said the communities took a resolution that municipal contractors would not be allowed to disconnect people’s lights until the City had responded to them.
He said: “These areas are considered poor, so the bill for rates and taxes is R0.00. But the problem is the high estimates which the people cannot afford. Families here are led by the elderly who have children that cannot find work, especially now because of this pandemic.
"Now it is very frustrating to see our elderly, who do not have a geyser and a swimming pool, receiving a bill for R40 000. That is what causes frustration, and we know the City is trying to make up for billions of rands in deficit as per the audits of the auditor-general ... we are not going to foot that bill. That is the price of corruption, and we refuse to be the poor who will pay for that in the form of unaffordable bills.
“I have been communicating with the Finance MMC, Mare-Lise Fourie, who is also frustrated because she delegated people from her department to engage us, but they have not done so. To be honest, she tried, and we must give credit where is it due.
“We are waiting to see what will happen today. In the meantime, we are ensuring that our people do not become disconnected, and we are doing so without violence or vandalism.
“We do not even attack the contractors. We just tell them that they must wait a bit because we are still in talks with their bosses.”
Fourie, however, has encouraged residents to allow meter readings on their properties as the City intensifies efforts to get accurate meter readings.
She said: “One of the challenges related to account payments has been estimations on customer accounts, which has led to some customers disputing their account balances.
“Through continuous oversight and targeted interventions by my office and the work of the management and officials, the finance department has seen an improvement in the status of actual meter readings in the City of Tshwane.
“The improvement in billing based on actual readings has improved from 27% for the month of January to 79%.”