Tshwane metro urges residents to co-operate with meter readers

Tshwane metro urges residents to co-operate with meter readers. Picture: Screenshot

Tshwane metro urges residents to co-operate with meter readers. Picture: Screenshot

Published Nov 23, 2023


Tshwane township residents have rejected the decision by the City of Tshwane to escalate its plan to issue more accurate service bills to its customers.

Community members who are mostly from the townships in the west of Pretoria, such as Lotus Gardens, Saulsville and Atteridgeville, have called out finance MMC Peter Sutton, accusing him of “targeting” them with the new system.

They are also accusing the cash-strapped municipality of trying to raise money for the metro by charging them ridiculous amounts for services such as electricity through estimated bills.

During the first week of this month, Sutton made public his intentions to issue more accurate bills after the metro turned to estimating the bills following the residents’ refusal for municipal officials to enter their homes for meter readings.

Sutton said the metro had been made aware of numerous incidents where residents have refused to co-operate with the city meter readers, which forced them to estimate their bills.

“In some areas, these incidents have escalated to intimidation, where our teams are prevented from performing their duties. This, in turn, forces the city to bill these customers using estimations … reading meters is the most reliable way to calculate your utility consumption,” Sutton said.

He said accurate meter readings ensure that every community member pays only for the services consumed, which would promote equity and fairness in the billing system while their privacy and safety would not be compromised.

“We urge residents to comply with the meter reading process so that we don't have to estimate. Your co-operation is instrumental in achieving our common goal of a well-functioning city that offers reliable and fair services. We sincerely hope you will help us in this endeavour to ensure our meter readers can perform their duties without any hesitation or apprehension,” he said.

However, the residents have met the metro pleas with disdain, saying it's a way for the municipality to further short-change them.

Imani Manaka of Attridgeville told “Pretoria News” that even when municipal officials were allowed in their houses to read the meters, they still estimated and ballooned the amount.

“All they want is to make sure that they overcharge us because they are broke. They need to pay their workers and that money has to come from somewhere. Where are they going to get the money if they don't get it from us?,” Manaka asked.

Cythia de Wet of Pretoria West said last month she was billed over R4 000 for services that were not rendered because the city’s workers were on strike.

“How did they come to that amount? They had not been collecting waste for months but their bill amounted to R4 000. There must be something wrong in that regard,” she said.

She was referring to the metro recovering from a more than three-month-old municipal strike that plunged the city into service delivery chaos.

The strike has, however, halted since last week and the metro is scrambling to clear the service delivery backlog.

Under the banner of the Lotus Gardens, Saulsville and Atteridgeville Civic Association, residents marched to Tshwane house last week demanding that the metro stop with the estimates.

Its chairperson, Tshepo Mahlangu, said the “deliberate estimated bills” were aiming to steal from the poorest of the poor to cover the crime and corruption in council.

“In a nutshell, the DA-led coalition and its subsidiary political allies deliberately outsourced the billing debt to consulting firms. The residents are billed by consultants instead of city employees, and that is corruption and maladministration by these toxic coalitions,” Mahlangu reportedly said.

Pretoria News

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