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Wednesday Aug 12, 2015

Durban's R1 billion billing system could be scrapped

With no end in sight for Durban's controversial Revenue Management System (RMS), its scrapping now appears imminent - close to R1 billion and 11 years later.

This much became apparent yesterday as city manager S'bu Sithole submitted a report indicating progress made in "responding to issues raised by the auditor-general and the audit committee".

This comes after a report of the city's audit committee relating to "IT governance and control" raised further concerns about the project.

The committee noted "discomfort" with the system and "concern that the development of RMS is entirely dependent upon external consultants, a situation that is not suitable going forward".

Councillors expressed their frustration and anger at the ongoing headache RMS had become for the city.

Sithole said a report determining the future of the project was being prepared for the executive committee by the audit committee.

"It has been presented to us about some doubt, some risks, and that's why I'm saying I want to formally come with that report so that any future expenditure on RMS is based on what has been calculated as risk on the matter," he said.

"That report will indicate the status of all the data migration; what has happened? What is the quality of data that has been migrated? But also to take a view… do we still want to proceed with RMS?"

He said he had instructed the audit team to "go back and review the process" of rolling out the system.

"We then expose ourselves to what are the risks inherent in that process, and what needs to be done to mitigate those risks… Is not about time to stop the whole process altogether?"

He said they would then need to review their strategies on enterprise resource planning requirements and all other information and communications technology-related requirements.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said: "The city manager is always saying we need to make a decision whether we carry on or not, yet we have pumped a lot of money into this. We were promised we would go live in July. What is happening? It is worrying."

The DA's Heinz de Boer said if the council was to decide to abandon the project, "we would have effectively spent over R600m on a system that is partially operational".

He said there were many questions that needed to be answered regarding the doomed project as well as "the partnership that we had with these companies… and all the intricacies around these contracts," he said, adding that the role of former city manager Mike Sutcliffe should be probed "because he had pushed it".

"It has become a headache for the city. It is something that we need to look into quickly before we spend any more money."

The Mercury


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