Blocked storm water drains, warning to check your municipal bills

2013-12-02 00:00

Municipal workers not getting it right

EVERY time it rained in the past three months, Peru Naidoo (78) has been unable to get into his driveway, which gets flooded and his car gets stuck in the mud. The pensioner and his family have to wade through the water to get to his house. His problem started when municipal workers were replacing pipes in Bertha Road, Northdale, above his house. The sand from the digging started washing away and the storm water drain near his home became blocked. Naidoo, who knows something about the construction industry, says that when river sand mixes with mud it hardens and this has completely blocked the storm water drains in the area. He has been reporting the problem and there have been some attempts to clean up the drains, but he believes that it is no use cleaning out just one outlet, the municipality needs to unblock the entire drainage system in the vicinity. What has really upset him is what happened on a Thursday two weeks ago. A municipal team arrived to clear out the drain. They removed the sand and left it on the side of the road. The rain came and washed all the debris straight back into the drain. He has been trying to get senior municipal officials to understand the gravity of the situation, but to no avail. He asked Witness Warriors to publish a photograph so that the officials can see what he has been talking about. The photograph was taken on Saturday morning. After yesterday’s heavy rains, the situation is even worse and the pensioner feels stuck in his house. Naidoo said that for the past few months, each time it rains he has tried his best to clear the gutters in front of his driveway, but he is too frail to do this after the recent deluge.

Scrutinise your municipal bills

The problem of meter readings being submitted online and not being entered oonto bills persists. However, that is not the only complication, as resident P. Singh realised. He forwarded a letter he wrote to the municipality to Witness Warriors as a warning to other consumers to check their bills.

Singh wrote: he received his latest utility bill and was disappointed due to the following reasons.

• The bill for the previous month due 31/10/2013 did not reflect his meter readings, which he submitted via the website. Instead, there were estimates. He paid the amounts requested.

• His current bill shows a reversal in the electricity charges reflecting the last reading. However, there is a different story when it comes to water. The readings of the past two months have been added up and presented as his current reading. His water bill has escalated and he says he is paying for an error on the municipality’s part. Based on his readings, the actual water consumption should be 55 kl instead of the 85 kl that is reflected on the account. He had already paid for the 30 kl that was reflected on his previous account. Having a higher water consumption also pushed him into a higher tariff bracket. Singh is grateful that there was no error with the electricity, but he noted that while he was credited after the electricity adjustment, the credit did not stretch to the amount of VAT he had to pay in his previous account.

Civic-minded citizens

From time to time, Witness Warriors come across actions of civic-minded citizens that go unheralded and they themselves don’t want any praise for their actions. However, it is worth mentioning their good deeds, as an example to others and to help build a culture of civic-mindedness. We can all play our part in helping make Pietermaritzburg a better city.

Vishad Deeplaul got tired of complaining about the rubbish on Otto’s Bluff Road with nothing being done.

He said he was going to organise a clean-up. We didn’t believe him and went out to check. Sure enough it was being done, as can be seen in the photograph to the left. This was done just over a week ago and it is hoped that uncaring citizens don’t go and undo the good work that has been done.

Actions, no matter how small, count. Reader Robert deserves a mention because after several days of seeing the streetlights in his area left on during the day, he took the time to phone to report this waste of electricity. The lights were switched off the next morning.

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