eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda addresses people of Umgudulu informal settlement about service delivery in Durban. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda addresses people of Umgudulu informal settlement about service delivery in Durban. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

eThekwini ratepayers lambaste tariff increases

By Siboniso Mngadi Time of article published Jun 6, 2021

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Durban: Ratepayers associations are fed up with the eThekwini Municipality’s tariffs increases which are set to come into effect next month.

As a standard rule, the City will increase its tariffs for water, electricity, and waste removal from July 1, which marks the new financial year.

The property rates will increase by 4.9%, refuse 4.9%, water 8.5%, sanitation: 8.5% while electricity will increase by 14.59%.

While announcing the new tariffs, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said despite the challenges, the City had tried to keep the increases to affordable levels considering the tough economic climate.

He said tariff increases for the 2021/22 financial year have been set at the lowest percentages ever seen in the past five years.

Justifying the increases, Kaunda explained that the Eskom bulk electricity increase and the Umgeni Water Board bulk water increase were out of the city’s control, but the plight of residents have been taken into consideration, he said.

However, ratepayers said any increase was unacceptable given the tough economic climate, while some lambasted poor services offered by the municipality.

Jeeva Pillay, Chairperson of Tongaat Civic Association, said their comments on the budget were taken for granted by the City.

He had sent the association’s input on the budget calling for the freezing of all tariffs due to the pandemic.

“We do not support the tariff increases to fund the lifestyle of particular individuals. The entire structure of the municipality must be reconfigured so that the salary bill is reduced. We need competent and efficient workers and only those that we need.

“Once the issue of bloated and or incompetent staff is addressed, costs to run the municipality will decrease, resulting in lower costs to the residents and ratepayers.

“The municipal property rates bill is penalising citizens that have made huge sacrifices to provide their own homes that they intend to retire in and to die in, but this rate bill taxes the property as if the sole purpose of owning a home is to sell it for a profit,” he said.

Tony Clothier, chairperson of Outer West Ratepayers Association, said they were not getting value for money in tariffs. He said the standard of city services have been deteriorating over the years while fraud and corruption deepens.

“Any increase is unacceptable, no matter how much. Deal with corruption and nepotism first before asking people to pay more. What is the point of paying tariffs that will not go towards servicing you but to someone’s pocket? While other countries are flourishing, our city is taking backward steps. The infrastructure is deteriorating but tariffs increase every year,” he said.

Kody Chetty, chairperson of Asherville Ratepayers Association, said residents were outraged over increases.

“The tariffs increase every year but ratepayers get nothing in return. There is a long list of issues we have been raising with the municipality and none get their attention. We are being stripped of the little we have for the benefit of certain individuals. We will meet as the association where members will make input on the way forward,” he said.

Wayne Duvenage, CEO for Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), said the City should have focused on reducing its cost rather than increasing tariffs.

“I think they should have frozen the property rates and workers' salary increases. At least 2% increase in other tariffs would have been reasonable. They should have considered the plight of the residents given the economic challenges,” he said.

The Sunday Tribune

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