Nightmare on Crawford Street

2014-09-29 00:00

This is another of those stories of a resident receiving an exorbitant municipal utility bill. Fortunately it has a happy ending, but it is related in full here as it could be anyone’s worst nightmare.

Maddy Kroukam says this saga has been ongoing for three years, since they received a water bill for R2 000. They complained and after a while it was refunded.

Then again about two years ago they received another water bill for between R3 000 and R4 000. Again the Kroukams complained, but received no response.

For the past 15 months they have been paying for 35 kl of water a month that they did not realise was way in excess of normal for two pensioners living modestly.

The shocker came in July when they received a water bill for over R64 000, for one month. Maddy Kroukam said she had a total meltdown when she was told to settle the bill first and then contest it.

“There was no way we had that amount of money. I was then told we had to prove that we did not have a water leak, surely we would have noticed a leak of that proportion. We contacted Leak Masters and were charged R570 for their services. When we provided a certificate to the water department we were told it was not valid and we had to pay them R530 for their inspectors to check our meter.

The Kroukams were then told that they would have to wait three months while their water consumption was monitored before any rebates were considered. This while a bill of over R64 000 was hanging over their heads and had amounted to over R71 000 as interest was being added on. They were thanked for their understanding and patience.

The Kroukams by this stage had long run out of patience and told the municipality that they had no choice but to turn to Witness Warriors. “We have been patient for a long time now, but have reached breaking point. If we do not have a response from your department by 4 pm today, I am forwarding this e-mail to the Witness Warriors. We will then bring to their attention that our meter jumped from the previous reading of 8 480 to 1 529. Please, we are pensioners and suffer from high blood pressure and really cannot cope with this stress any longer,” the Kroukams wrote.

Witness Warriors contacted the head of billing, Moses Ngobese, and asked if he could get a senior staffer to look into this account, as had been done for Mrs Dedekind previously who had a similar outrageous account.

By Friday we received the following response from the municipality: “We are pleased to advise that the account query for Mrs A.C. Kroukam has been finalised.” The account has been credited with an amount of R 71 781,95 (inclusive of interest) due to the faulty meter.

This is broken down as follows:

Water adjustment R 69 926,77

Interest reversal R 1 333,06

Credit, water meter test fee R522,12

Total credit R 71 781,95

The Kroukams are thrilled that their nightmare is over and say the thought of being able to sleep again is most welcome. They are grateful to everyone who helped resolve this matter.

What about the

children?

Children are falling into open manholes in Pietermaritz Street and those being taught at a school in the street have to put up with the nauseating smell of milk that has gone off.

Mrs M. Singh writes: “We are a little primary school with about 175 students — and for the past few years we have been complaining about the street outside the school which is used to wash vehicles and a dairy which washes waste milk that ends up standing in a drain that is blocked and at times the smell becomes unbearable.”

Singh said that to add to their woes most of the manhole covers are out and on numerous occasions they have reported this to the municipality, but nothing has being done. “Three weeks ago a child fell into one of these manholes and was injured. On Thursday another child fell into these dangerous uncovered manholes,” she added.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said that an inspection was conducted at the milk depot on Friday morning. Notice was served on the owner with regards to general housekeeping inside the premises. He was told to remove all unwanted items from the store and also get rid of old stock on a more frequent basis. The old stock was collected by pig farmers and the owner was also advised to ensure that they collect on a more frequent basis to ensure that there were no more foul odours.

“At time of inspection there was no evidence of waste milk in the drain fronting the property. The owner said that premises were used as depot only and that no processing or packing of milk took place on the site. The milk was delivered by the dairies and as there was no access for the vehicles into the yard to offload; the crates were offloaded at the front of the shop. There are spillages from the trucks on occasion and he was advised to wash the area to prevent milk standing in the drain. He was also advised to speak to the relevant delivery personnel to keep spillages to a minimum and to clean and disinfect area if there were any spillages.

“The manhole covers are also to be replaced and we will follow up to see that they are done poste-haste as we would not want another child to get hurt.”

Synchronisation

of robots

Feroza Butler said she first complained about the synchronisation of the robot at the Dr Chota Motla interchange last year. She received a response from the municipality in September 2013 and since then nothing has been done to the robots in this place. “There have been numerous accidents, even a fatality, and there was yet another accident in the past week. How many more accidents or lives will be lost in this area, before something is done,” she asks.

According to Butler, when you drive from the city centre towards Northdale, on the Chota Motala Road, and if you are turning right from this road to the N3 highway, the robot turns red, yet the cars going towards the city centre still proceed because the robot for them is green. “I was witness to many incidents, me being one of them when I used the road the first time. The robot turns red, and we go to turn, not expecting the on-coming cars coming at high speeds, to proceed, and then there’s screeching of tyres, hooting, drivers swearing! This is like a time bomb ready to explode, so please get this sorted out.

“Also, at this same robot, the arrow to turn right is on the extreme left pole — should this not have been on the pole in front of the lane turning right?”

Butler suggests that a camera be placed at the interchange as well to catch errant drivers who do not stop when the robot is red and drive right through.

There have been numerous complaints about the synchronisation of robots in the entire city, perhaps this could become a project for the rest of the year, one that the infrastructure portfolio committee can champion.

Empty promises

The waste management section, which said it was going to clean up the dump site in Lincoln Meade, has still not done so, according to complainant Nkosiyakhe Dlamini. We will be seeking answers as to why there was no follow up.

Speed humps

Bulwer Road residents have not given up on their campaign for speed humps in the street to keep speeding motorists in check. The residents remind the municipality that there are two schools in the street — Merchiston and Longmarket Schools. There is also the Riverside senior citizens home in the street. The residents are also aware that the matter had been taken up by their ward councillor, Naleni Atwaru, and they were led to believe that a calming hump had been prioritised last year and it was imminent! This is another matter to follow up on.

Couple’s water bill nightmare

Municipality solves problem after family receives bill for R71 000 due to faulty meter

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