Durban folk to pay more for services

Tariff hikes kick in for Durban residents on July 1. Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Tariff hikes kick in for Durban residents on July 1. Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 30, 2024


Durban residents and businesses will be paying a whole lot more for municipal services from Monday.

Despite the high cost of living and several objections by ratepayers and civic organisations, water, electricity, rates, sanitation and refuse collection are all going up in price.

When he tabled the metro’s consolidated budget earlier this year, then eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said it was a “people’s budget” as the initially proposed price hikes had been revised. However, for those who live in the floundering municipality, paying more for less is a bitter pill to swallow.

Tashya Giyapersad, from the Tongaat Civic Association, said the municipality was run by a “bunch of despots” because they made autocratic decisions no matter what information was provided. She said residents were battling financially and still had to contend with the effects of the riots, strikes, floods and the recent tornado.

“All of us have been trying to communicate with (the council) to get the increases down substantially because people are already in debt. So what they’re doing, they’re just kind of rubber-stamping it and they're not actually applying their mind to the fact that there has been very little growth in the eThekwini precinct.

“Jobs are at an all-time low, unemployment is at an all-time high. Currently, the municipality has a huge balloon debt, and this comes primarily from bad spending, poor management and obviously corruption.”

So, what will you be paying for these services?

The electricity tariff increase, which was initially set at 14%, was reduced to 12.72%. The property rates tariff increases by 6.5%, down from the initial figure of 7.9%. Water, a major point of contention as many residents are still without a constant supply, will increase by 12.9%. Sanitation services will go up by 10.9%, and the refuse tariff is up by 7% for domestic use and 8% for businesses.

On Saturday, Ish Prahladh, from the eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents Association (Erra), was still holding out hope that the increases would not come into effect. This after Erra had lodged various objections to halt the increases.

“We still believe that all tariff increases in eThekwini are not justified. People must get reliable services which they pay for. which is not the case in eThekwini,” said DA exco councillor Thabani Mthethwa.

Meanwhile, eThekwini Municipality is one of four KZN municipalities where the electricity price can increase from Monday. The others are the Newcastle Local Municipality, KwaDukuza Local Municipality and uMhlathuze Local Municipality.

Countrywide, only 66 municipalities can go ahead with electricity price hikes from Monday. On Friday, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) could not consider any applications for electricity tariff increases from municipalities without the requisite cost studies.

The application was brought by civil society organisation AfriForum.

“The court has now acknowledged anew that Nersa failed to protect consumers against unlawful applications for electricity tariff increases – something the law compels the regulator to do,” said AfriForum’s Morné Mostert.

The court ruled that the current electricity tariffs would still apply in municipalities that had failed to submit cost studies, but said that the new tariff increases could be considered if the information was submitted within 60 days, said AfriForum.

Sunday Tribune