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Wednesday Sep 13, 2017

High municipal bills still dog Durban residents

A Newlands East resident has claimed the eThekwini Revenue Management System (RMS) is still sending out incorrect monthly bills.

Letitia Leonard said her arrears last month escalated to just over R52 000. Her municipal bill for last month was R3 166. Her average was R1 800.

Despite visiting the water and electricity departments and filing a complaint at the office of the ombudsman in June she has not received any feedback on why her bill skyrocketed.

"At first I was told my arrears were R9 000 for water and R10 000 for electricity. Then they (municipality) gave me an excuse that my meter was not working. So how did they do a reading for August?" she asked.

Leonard advised people to scrutinise their bills. In July, her invoice was mixed up with that of a resident of Ntuzuma.

On Facebook, many Newlands residents felt the same way. Kuhle Tembani said her bill had more than doubled from R700 to R1 500 last month. Nozipho KaHlatshwayo said her bills had been high in July but last month they were normal.

Bronwyn Shantel Harry said she had been paying R3 000 for the past six months despite living in a two-bedroom flat with no geyser and nobody at home during the day.

Sherwin Richards, of Jazmax Properties, said the bills at some of the properties they managed in Newlands East had been high last month. He urged residents to get prepaid electricity meters.

"The municipality says there was an incorrect reading from February to August 2017," he said.

Tozi Mthethwa, city spokesperson, said customers not satisfied with their service could make an appointment with the supervisor or manager of the department.

"You will never win against the council. The people there (even at senior level) don't understand the new system which took them 10 years to come out with. They tell you if you don't pay, you will get disconnected," said Richards.

Alison Houston said she was billed R11 600 last month, more than December to July combined.

"Why must we, the consumers, pay for their stuff-ups all the time? They can't be sending us ridiculous bills. I sent the correct reading the same day and I'm still waiting to find out if that reading was loaded on the system," she said.

The RMS billing system produces water, electricity and sanitation accounts. The new system went online in 2016 at a cost of more than R620 million, 10 years after it was first mooted and hundreds of millions of rands over budget.

Daily News

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