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Wednesday Sep 26, 2012

Blackouts owing to arrears, says Tshwane

The City of Tshwane claims the recent water and electricity cuts that infuriated residents were legitimate and done in terms of credit control policy.

Several angry residents left in the dark over the weekend said employees at the municipal offices in Centurion told them the "new system" was to blame. However, city spokesman Phalane Motale said there was no "new system".

The power cuts followed just days after Finance MMC Dorothy Mabiletsa and City of Tshwane's head of revenue Dayalan Pillay made an unannounced visit to the BKS building - the hub of the city's billing department - last week.

The visit, part of the Growth and Development Strategy 2015, was aimed at evaluating service delivery and the effectiveness of the new system which was in its test phase.

The BKS building also handles payment of municipal accounts, billing queries, payments and arrangements and sells electricity and water.

Last week the Pretoria News reported that Pillay said a new system to improve communication with customers was in the pipeline and would be fully operational by February. He added that the department was now sending bills by SMS and e-mail as part of a testing phase.

At the weekend, the Pretoria News was in contact with two city residents who had to spent Heritage Day in the dark because contractors responsible for re-connections were "away for the long weekend".

Phillip Nel from Elarduspark and Andre Loubser from Valhalla said they had tried everything over the weekend to get their electricity switched back on, but to no avail.

Loubser said he had called the Pretoria News out of sheer desperation as his calls to the city's helpline went unanswered. "I have tried everything and tried to call over and over again, but no luck."

Both Nel and Loubser had their power restored yesterday, but without any explanation as to why it had been cut in the first place.

Both are adamant that their accounts are up to date and there was no reason to cut their electricity.

Motale insisted that the disconnections were legitimate and said credit control measures kicked in when an account was 30 days in arrears and the amount owed is more than R300.

A green final demand notice is issued and hand-delivered to the client. "The customer is given 14 days to pay the arrears or to make arrangements to pay off the arrears.

"If no payment or arrangements have been made within 14 days, the power will be cut. A red final notice will be left at the client's address."

Nel said he did get a red final notice in his post box but said he never received a green final demand notice, while Loubser said he had not received any notices.

Nel said his electricity was switched back on at 10am while he was at the municipal offices in the CBD. "I'm instituting a claim against the city. I've lost everything in my fridge and my wife and I could not work from home for a week."

Pretoria News

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