The full roll-out of prepaid electricity meters in Pretoria will not be happening anytime soon.
Many Pretoria residents were optimistic when executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa announced during his State of the City address in March a full roll-out of prepaid electricity meters that would be enforceable by law.
Residents welcomed this initiative because it meant that they would have control over their electricity usage especially in light of the inflated bills that many Pretoria and Johannesburg residents have been receiving.
Mobilitate gets inundated with billing issues from metro’s in Gauteng, including the City of Tshwane, on a daily basis and a significant amount of these complaints questions the usage of water and electricity.
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 has increased by 125%
“Now they have taken a reading but did not reverse the 90% of estimates. As a result our bill is R10 000 for electricity per month even though we are two people in the house and we have all the electricity savings items in place. By our calculation we do not use more than R500-R600 per month,” the user said.
A pre-paid meter would be the answer in this case because residents would have control over their electricity usage.
With the roll-out of the pre-paid meters the City wants to clampdown on residents who do not pay for services by blocking defaulters’ cards from buying units of electricity.
“Once in full swing, the project will help the City to overcome problems of inaccurate billing and loss of revenue to the city, and secure the financial position of the city,” Ramokgopa said.
During the budget speech in May the mayor also said “the Security of Revenue Project which entails full roll out of prepaid electricity meters throughout Tshwane is now a reality”.
On July 1 a by-law will be promulgated that will state that “rendering of electricity in Tshwane will only be done on pre-paid electricity platform for all the users”.
Many Mobilitate members wanted to know when this roll-out will commence and what the financial implication would be.
After months of requesting more information about this, Mobilitate recently learned that there were no “measures internally in place to roll-out the meters yet”.
Kagiso Leepile, director of economic development and public lighting services, told Mobilitate that the budget has already been approved for this financial year and the roll-out of pre-paid meters does not form part of the budget.
“This was a strategic and long term decision taken by the executive mayor. If they make the budget available, we will implement,” he said.
Almost half of the 480 000 Tshwane account holders already have prepaid meters.
But, as Leepile puts it, residents will not yet get the prepaid meters for “mahala”.
Only approved POP (poorest of the poor) residents will get the meters for free. For other residents who want a prepaid meter now the cost would be R1400. The price was recently reduced from R2015.
Leepile said the City was also “strategically advising” defaulting customers to move to prepaid.
A tender has been advertised for prepaid meters but not as part of the roll-out the mayor announced. It will just apply for the installation of prepaid meters on request by paying customers.
It is not clear when the full roll-out of meters will be implemented.
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