Fixing our meter woes

2014-02-07 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality says it will complete the installation of 715 water and electricity meters at Pietermaritzburg homes lacking the devices by the end of this month.

In addition, also by the end of the month, the municipality will begin reading 100% of meters in the district, instead of billing residents based on estimates.

The installation of the meters was intended to be completed by the beginning of this year — coupled with the commencement of reading all meters — but was delayed by a shortage of meters by the supplier.

These measures are expected to address the current situation in which the city is only collecting revenue for 54% of the water it supplies residents, losing millions of rands a month.

It emerged from a report presented to the executive committee yesterday that an order for 215 meters had been placed and received by December last year. It was subsequently discovered that 500 more meters were required and an urgent meeting was held on December 6, where it was agreed to place an order. This was necessary because the municipality had already hired 20 plumbing teams to install the new meters and repair existing faulty meters.

Another problem emerged when a computer used to capture meter data crashed. The computer was replaced, but a further delay in capturing the information from 1 020 meters resulted because of the tardy payment to a service provider for the software.

DA exco member Mergan Chetty was sceptical of the municipality’s assertion that 75% of water and electricity meters were read and 25% estimated.

“The November report said there was an increase of 1 500 meters that were not being read,” he said, adding that this meant the number of meters being read had dropped to 68%.

“That is a major concern because this was one of the areas commented on in the Auditor-General’s qualified report. It is imperative that this council’s billing department gets its act together to assist in getting us a clean audit,” he said.

Chetty said municipal officials had also in the past six months presented varying figures with a difference of 2 814 households that had electricity disconnected. This indicated further losses to the council as it meant that people had been disconnected, but continued to use electricity illegally, he said.

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said they were trying to deal with meters that had not been read since 2004.

“We aim to fix all the faulty meters so that we can read them regularly,” he said.

Nkosi said he could not say at this stage whether the council was losing money.

“We will only know if we are losing money once we have corrected all the meters. Then we will be able to compare the income from actual readings against the income from estimates,” he said.

Nkosi said they would be reading 100% of water and electricity meters by the end of February.

“And we want to do it monthly from then because it is the basis of our revenue,” he said.

Nkosi said they were currently reading 90% of electricity and 80% of water meters.


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