Final warnings to pay arrears

2015-05-05 06:00

Parkwood residents are all dried out after receiving pink letters threatening to cut their water supply.

Steep water bills have arrived in many residents’ post boxes since Monday 9 March and they are saying they cannot afford the exorbitant amounts reflecting on their accounts.

One resident, who requested to remain anonymous, says he is not able to pay her bill of just under R17 000.

“This amount is just too steep. I cannot afford to pay it all at once. I’m a general labourer and earn a very small salary,” he says.

According to the resident he knew he was in arrears.

“I knew I had to pay the water bill but I just did not have the money. Now they sent a letter threatening to disconnect my water supply. Why would they do that? One cannot go without water.”

Another resident, who also requested to remain anonymous, is a pensioner and says she owes the City of Cape Town just under R2 000 according to her latest statement.

“I pay my statement every month but during February I lost my son and due to financial constraints I could not pay my water bill. I just did not pay my instalment for that one month and received a final warning letter,” she says.

The pensioner says she previously received a final warning letter during last year but made arrangements to pay off the arrears.

“I now have to go back to the municipality and make arrangements for payment because I am scared they will cut off my water. I’m not sure if I will have enough money because when you get there, you’re expected to make a payment on the day as well,” she adds.

Mayoral committee member for finance Ian Neilson says the City deals with municipal debt holistically and could not confirm how many residents in Parkwood received final warning letters since the beginning of March.

“Unfortunately we are unable to provide the exact number as it changes on a daily, even hourly basis,” he says.

In terms of relevant legislation, we have to send out warning notices and letters of demand. If property owners or account owners do not respond to these notices, then the next step in terms of legislation is firstly to either disconnect the electricity supply, or to restrict (trickle) the water supply,” Neilson says.

He adds account owners do make arrangements at their municipal offices to pay off debt owed to the City.

“Those who do not respond when their water or electricity supplies are restricted or disconnected are handed over for legal action to the attorneys in terms of the relevant legislation and the approved City bylaws and policies,” he adds.

Neilson adds if any resident’s water is restricted, electricity supply disconnected or legal action instituted, “then it is clear that they have ignored all the notices sent and not made any attempt to obtain assistance from the City”.

This applies to all areas and accounts with arrears.

“We encourage residents who have been disconnected or restricted to come forward to access the basket of benefits offered to indigent residents and make arrangements to pay off their debt based on their ability to pay. This will help them avoid the costs associated with legal action,” Neilson explains.

He further adds that any resident who has received a warning letter is in arrears.

“The City endeavours to read meters on a monthly basis. When City officials cannot access the water meter to do a reading, the amount is estimated based on the historic usage patterns of the consumer. If it is established from a subsequent reading that the estimate was more than the actual usage, the resident’s account will be credited with the difference and vice versa,” Neilson adds.

V

If a resident would like to challenge the accuracy of their bill they can visit their nearest municipal office or contact the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.V

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