‘Witness’ Warriors put on endless hold in call to city

2013-09-30 00:00

When Merle Richard complained about how long and often she tried calling the Msunduzi Municipality’s billing section, without getting through, I thought she was exaggerating.

All Richard wanted to know was what happened to her company’s electricity bill for August and how she could get a copy to know what amount had to be paid. Eventually she gave up and called Witness Warriors.

She described a sorry saga of being pushed from pillar to post; of being referred from one section to another; of phones ringing endlessly with no one answering. Most often the call would cut off, but every now and then she got lucky when the call reverted back to the switchboard. The operator would either say there was no one there or would try another number and the waiting game would begin all over again. The few times she did get lucky enough to hear a human voice on the other side, she was told that she was speaking to the wrong section and could not be helped.

It just could not be that bad, I thought. Well in my experience it was worse. There was I with the phone pressed to my ear for more than an hour enduring the disapproving stares of my bosses. Eventually my single-minded pursuit of trying to find someone — just anyone at the municipality to help — came to an end when one of my bosses came over with an instruction for work she wanted done. So I had to give up.

Like Richard, I was left hanging while the phone rang endlessly. I timed the length of the rings: I had to wait for periods of up to five, seven and 11 minutes (these minutes can seem endless when you are on the phone). Most often the calls would cut off, prompting one to call the switchboard again and the chances of reaching an operator depended on sheer luck. Sometimes the call reverted back to the switchboard and all the weary operator would say is that she “will try another number”.

One of the switchboard operators suggested the problem could be due to its being month-end and the billing section getting a high volume of calls.

There appears to be just one line to the billing section call centre: 033 392 2980. Perhaps there need to be more lines to this section and, more importantly, a municipality the size of Msunduzi needs an automated response system, one that tells you what number you are in the queue or how long you will have to wait before an operator connects with you.

Please let Warriors know if you have had similar telephone woes with the municipality. We can compile a report and hopefully help the municipality sort out this problem.

An end to volumes of water being lost in

informal settlements

The Msunduzi Municipality has responded to several complaints of leaking standpipes and volumes of water pouring down the roads around the city. The problem was particularly severe in the Copesville area. Brenden Sivparsad, process manager for water and sanitation, alerted Witness Warriors to the fact that the municipality had started replacing the standpipes in Copesville with a “heavy-duty, robust,” type that is more tamper-proof.

A while back, when initial complaints about water being wasted from gushing standpipes was sent to the municipality, Sivparsad responded that Msunduzi was taking the improvement of standpipes very seriously. He said then that they were in the process of testing for the most robust standpipe to replace the existing ones.

Sivparsad said they had been looking at spring-loaded standpipes that he had seen in eThekwini, where force was required to press down on the tap before it opens and once left, the tap shuts off.

Glad to see that the water team have followed through and took the time to let residents know that they are currently addressing the problem.

Instant action

If you want your road gravelled and weeds removed, invite the premier or some other bigwig to your area.

This is what city residents learnt last week. After years of complaining about the shocking state of Dales Park, they were surprised to see it all being instantly fixed, especially the crater-like potholes in the road leading into the park. With the Royal Showgrounds booked up for the Garden Show, Dales Park became the venue for the inauguration of KZN’s newly installed premier, Senzo Mchunu.

In the day or two leading up to the ceremony, an army of municipal officials were let loose on the grounds, removing overgrown bugweeds and other noxious species. Even more amusing to watch, say residents, were the swarm of workers gravelling the road leading to the park. The residents, although irritated, are not complaining — finally, after years of complaining the road has been gravelled.

However, they are asking how the money suddenly became available from the municipal coffers, when the standard response they received each time they complained was that there was no money. Ward councillor Judy Lawrence said that in December 2012 she had taken municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi and other senior officials to the park to point out all that needed to be done. Of course nothing happened, until the VIPs came a calling and all stops were pulled out.

[Thumbs down] Instant action

If you want your road gravelled and weeds removed, invite the Premier or some other bigwig to your area. This is what city residents learnt last week. After years of complaining about the shocking state of Dales Park, they were surprised to see it all being instantly fixed, especially the crater-like pot-holes in the road leading into the park. With the Royal Showgrounds booked up for the Garden Show, Dale Parks became the venue for the inauguration of KZN’s newly installed Premier Senzo Mchunu. In the day or two leading up to the ceremony, an army of municipal officials were let loose on the grounds, removing overgrown bugweeds and other noxious species. Even more amusing to watch, say residents, were the swarm of workers gravelling the road leading to the park. The residents, although irritated, are not complaining -– finally, after years of complaining the road has been gravelled. However they are asking how the money suddenly became available from the municipal coffers, when the standard response they receive each time they complained was that there was no money. Ward councillor Judy Lawrence said that in December 2012 she had taken Municipal Manager Mxolisi Nkosi and other senior officials to the park to point out all that needed to be done. Of course nothing happened, until the VIP’s came a calling and all stops were pulled. Lawrence added however, that if the Premier took the time to look around he would have seen that a hatchet job had been done. Still, the bugweed is gone and the road is gravelled, so no one is complaining

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