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Thursday May 17, 2012

Durban's new billing system to be phased in

Eight years after it was given the go-ahead by the eThekwini Municipality, the long-awaited but controversial Revenue Management System (RMS) is expected to go live in January next year.

This emerged at yesterday's executive committee meeting during a presentation by municipal officials Jacquie Subban and Bob Gangadaran.

The computerised billing system would be phased in gradually by geographic areas, said Gangadaran, who added that low-risk customers, who were good payers and not in arrears, would be the first to be moved to the new system.

With 800 000 customers, Subban said it would be a risk trying to manage all of them at once. The R474-million system has been a contentious issue with councillors and city officials because of constant delays in its golive date.

The system, which was approved by the city's executive committee in 2004, will manage a number of other systems, including billing and revenue collection, debt management and disconnection of services.

Once it goes live, it will replace the existing Coin Billing System.

Delays in developing the system and changes to its original specifications have seen its cost balloon from R150m to R474m. The constant postponement of the implementation date has irked opposition parties, who repeatedly urged the city to consider pulling the plug on it.

Yesterday, Mayor James Nxumalo said it was vital that the city be kept abreast about the implementation of the system.

"We need to be cautious in implementing the system as we don't want a repetition of what happened in Johannesburg," he said, referring to billing problems last year when residents received the wrong accounts.

Subban told the committee it would receive monthly progress reports.

Deputy Mayor Nomvuzo Shabalala said the city needed to enlist the services of an independent legal representative, who would scrutinise the system before it went live.

Earlier this year, the Manase forensic report found that the awarding of a R44m tender for system support had been irregular, with the municipality's supply chain management policy not having been adhered to.

Daily News

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