Joburg residents could have their services cut if they do not give meter readers access to their properties – even if their accounts are up to date.
This is apparently the new policy of the City of Joburg which could result in the cut-off of electricity to about 40 000 residents whose properties cannot be accessed for meter readings, according to the Star.
And residents whose accounts are up to date, and who either phone in or send an e-mail of their meter readings, could still find themselves facing the inconvenience of having their power cut off and paying a reconnection fee if the city has been unable to physically check meter readings.
When Mobilitate met with the MMC for finance’s office recently we were told that it was perfectly acceptable to phone in or send an email with meter readings. It was never mentioned that council has to read the meter every three months, even if you supply them with a meter reading every month.
City revenue spokesman Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela told The Star there were many customers who still did not allow meter readers on to their properties.
This results in the City not being able to bill those customers on actual readings but on estimates.
“While they may submit their readings in other ways, we still have to read the meters every three months. The readers are there also to check the meters to see if they are in proper working order. We are entitled to do cut-offs in terms of the city’s by-laws,” he said.
According to The Star the city now says in terms of by-laws, the council cannot issue estimates for longer than three months in a row and it will therefore resort to cutting off services if meters cannot be read.
One Mobilitate member complained that she worked during the day therefore the meter readers could never get access to her property.
The municipality then based the bill on estimates and as a result the account had increased by 125%
But the city says when the meter readers cannot get access to a property they leave a note with a telephone number. This allows the resident to make an appointment for a meter reader to come and do a reading at a convenient time
According to City Power communication manager, Sol Masolo, the City aimed to eradicate the problems created with using estimates.
"Customers must be aware that the programme is not only for the benefit of the city but also for their own, because the only way we can calculate their consumption is by reading the meters," he told Sapa.
On the City Power website is a list of all account numbers where the City cannot get access to properties to do meter readings.
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