Msunduzi pre-paid meter system one of the most expensive in SA

2013-03-12 00:00

A SURVEY of pre-paid meter systems in other cities in the country shows that the Msunduzi system is among the more expensive.

Johannesburg has offered free meters for certain categories of residents, Cape Town installed meters free of charge until a cut-off date and Tshwane reduced the price of the meters to R1 400.

Msunduzi residents are up in arms over a council decision on the blanket enforcement of pre-paid meters in which they will have to pay R2 500 upfront for the installation of the meters.

They are also upset that there has been no public consultation on the matter.

The City of Tshwane is moving to pre-paid meters, but more cautiously.

News24 reported that Tshwane will first change the by-law to state that “rendering of electricity in Tshwane will only be done on pre-paid electricity platform for all users”.

The municipality also took a decision that residents on its indigent list will get meters for free.

For other residents the price would be R1 400. The price was reduced last year from R2 015.

Pre-paid meter installation is not going as smoothly in Johannesburg.

A complaint aired by many residents is that they are being double-billed. Despite buying their own electricity, they are still getting bills from the municipality.

In Johannesburg, according to Property24, City Power got into trouble when it cut off electricity supplies to force residents to convert to pre-paid meters. Its officials were reportedly arriving at properties without notification to install the meters.

Attorney Dino Tserkezis told Property24 that this was illegal because there was no basis in terms of the by-laws in Johannesburg that allowed the utility to force property owners to convert to a pre-paid metering system, especially if their accounts were paid and up to date.

The municipality is reportedly installing free meters for listed indigent residents as well as for householders who have made arrangements to pay their arrears. Other customers who are being charged are being offered choices on the type of meter they would like installed.

The costs will vary, depending on the meter, from single-phase to three-phase meters. Customers who use more than 1 100 kilowatts per month have been advised by City Power not to convert to pre-paid meters.

More than 75% of Cape Town is on pre-paid meters, according to the latest information from the municipality.

City of Cape Town spokesperson Charles Cooper said the city started converting to pre-paid meters a long time ago. To get residents to convert, it initially fitted the meters free of charge. He said the city also ensured that the unit charges on the pre-paid meters were the same as the charges on the credit meter system.

Part of the resistance in Msunduzi against the blanket installation of pre-paid meters is that currently the unit charge on the pre-paid system is higher than for the credit meter system.

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