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Monday Aug 20, 2018

Tshwane charges 'unreasonable' tariffs on applications for gated communities

The City of Tshwane was charging unreasonable and exorbitant tariffs on applications for access restriction, or gated communities.

This administration fee should be set at the same reasonable tariff as charged by the City of Joburg, the Residents Against Crime organisation has said.

In Joburg an access restricted area with 100 houses and four entrances pays R15 155 for a new application, and R9 090 for reapplication.

However, in the capital the same area pays R46 000 (R11 000 plus R350 x 100) and R26 000 for a reapplication (R11 000 administration fee and a R150 additional for each of the 100 houses).

The same area in Ekurhuleni would pay R2 800 for both an application and and a reapplication, regardless of the number of households or access points.

Residents Against Crime has now asked the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an order that the City's tariff set in its 2017 budget for access restriction applications be reviewed and set aside.

It wants the court to order the City to charge R12 875 for every initial access restriction application and R760 for every additional access restriction point. For an access restriction reapplication, the City should charge R7 725 and R455 for every additional restriction point, Jan Malan for Residents Against Crime stated in court papers.

In the alternative, it wants the issue be be referred back to the City to reconsider a more reasonable fee for these Chapter 7 applications.

The City has a policy that, among others, requires the submission of a reapplication three months before the expiry of the two-year approved period. The amount of the administration fee is determined as part of the budget process.

The City's administration fee as set out in the draft budget of July 1, 2017, to June 30 this year is as follows: For the initial application it will cost R11 000 for an area containing up to 20 residential units.

The basic R11 000 remained, but for 21 to 60 units, the City charged an additional R500 per unit; for 61 to 120 units it charged R350 per unit.

For 121 to 200 units, the fee is R300 per unit and for an area containing more than 201 residential units, the fee is R250 per unit.

After the two years have lapsed, the communities once again have to pay R11 000 and a slightly reduced price for each of the households.

Malan said this fee was vastly different from the fees charged by neighbouring municipalities. In Joburg the administration fee was R12 875 for the initial application, plus R760 for every additional access restriction point. A reapplication cost R7 725 plus R455 for every additional access restriction point.

In Ekurhuleni the administrative fee was R2 800 per access restriction application.

Malan said: "Thus, an applicant in Joburg will pay R15 155 for a new application and R9 090 every two years for a reapplication. The same applicant in Pretoria would pay R46 000 for a new application and R26 000 every two years for a reapplication," Malan said.

"The work is exactly the same with the costs in Pretoria being 300% more expensive for a new application, and just under 300% more expensive for a reapplication."

The access restriction area in Pretoria with the most households is Constantia Glen, which has 1 100 households. It has 11 entrances.

In Joburg this area would pay R21 235 for a new application and R12 730 for a reapplication. In Pretoria this area would pay R286 000 for a new application and R148 500 for a reapplication every two years.

In Ekurhuleni it would cost R2 800 for a new application of this size, and the same amount for a reapplication.

Malan said a new application in Pretoria for an area as big as Constantia Glen would thus cost 1 361% more than in Joburg and 10 214% more than in Ekurhuleni.

"To compound the problem, no household can be forced to pay for the costs of the access restriction application... There is no rationality in charging per household. The work done by the City officials is increased marginally by the number of access points. The number of households makes no difference. It also cannot add to the administrative costs of the City."

Malan said the fee was unreasonable, and that previously disadvantaged areas such as Mamelodi and Atteridgeville, that also suffer from crime, would never be able to afford to apply for restricted access.

The case was postponed indefinitely to give the City a chance to answer.

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