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Thursday Aug 18, 2011

Tshwane billing system 'needs to be rewired'

The Tshwane Metro Council has come in for criticism over its "erratic" billing system. Several residents have complained that their electricity have been cut off even though they're not in arrears.

Other residents have complained that their meter readings have not been captured and that the council is quick to cut their electricity, but slow to reconnect.

Attempts to get comment from the municipality were unsuccessful.

West Park resident Bhola Mazibuko was recently forced to spend a "black weekend" after her electricity was "wrongly" cut off by the municipality. According to Mazibuko, the food in her fridge was spoilt and she could not have a hot bath.

Mazibuko, who lives with her disabled husband and child, said she does not owe the municipality a cent. She said it happened as a result of negligence on the part of the municipality.

The municipality was supposed to switch off the electricity at a property on Cordelfos Street, but instead went to Cordelfos Crescent.

"We contacted them several times, and they promised to come and fix the problem, but only came after they enjoyed their long weekend," she said.

Her electricity was eventually reconnected on August 10.

An Akasia resident, who did not wish to be named, said she was supposed to pay her outstanding bill by July 15.

Her electricity was disconnected on August 2, even though she had paid the full account, including her August account, "for which I still have not received the bill".

She said she went to the municipal offices in Akasia for help, to no avail.

"The council should sort out this problem. People whose accounts are arrears for just 30 days should not have their electricity cut off without proper notice," she said.

Meanwhile, DA councillor Hilda Weber said municipal accounts in the Kungwini area (Bronkhorstspruit and surrounding areas) were not being delivered on time and reflected incorrect readings.

Weber said lawyers were frustrated because clearance figures were unavailable for property transfers, resulting in transactions being cancelled.

"Although this merger was on the cards for more than a year, the belief was that perhaps falling into a metro would mean more efficient services, because of more experienced and better qualified personnel," said Weber.

She said Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing Humphrey Mmemezi gave assurances at the beginning of the year that everything was on track, but that billing problems remained.

Cash or bank-guaranteed cheques were the only means of payment, she said, "meaning that clients have to make a risky trip carrying cash or stand in long queues".

"The easiest and most efficient means of payment - by debit order - has been temporarily put off the system," said Weber.

She suggested that clients just pay what they normally pay, keep the receipts and do a reconciliation when things eventually come right.

"There can be no overbilling because meters do not stop running and cannot be turned forward or backward. Electricity will not be cut off if there is an attempt by residents to make normal payments," said Weber.

Pretoria News


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