News24

Joburg has 'learnt lessons' from billing

2011-02-02 15:54

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg said it learnt "valuable lessons" from the current billing problem and asked for patience.

"Please bear with us. We are all in this important work together," spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said in a statement.

All affected parties, the government, ratepayers and the general public would be engaged "to find a lasting solution".

On Tuesday Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka said the problem, which had resulted in residents receiving inflated bills and others having services cut off, would be investigated.

Shiceka met Gauteng Local Government MEC Humphrey Memezi on Friday to get his understanding of the problems highlighted by the media and residents, who had called and written to the minister's office.

Memezi was given until February 18 to present Shiceka with a full report and a plan to resolve problems with billing systems in Gauteng, particularly those in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo, who recently said there was no crisis, made a surprise visit to the city's revenue department and its call centre on Wednesday morning.

"...Disciplinary measures are being taken [against] all employees and management for any wrongdoing and unbecoming behaviour. All of us must be held accountable," the statement read.

Modingoane however added it was "wrong and malicious" for the media to continue claiming Masondo had said there were no problems.

"All we said was the situation is not turning for the worse and provided evidence indicating why this is so."

The problem was attributed to the implementation of the R580m Project Phakama, intended to improve the city's billing system.

There was a need to beef up management controls, improve internal communications, and train staff.

Comments
  • Observer - 2011-02-02 16:06

    In other words - "We are still trying to understand".

  • tilovonbrandis - 2011-02-02 16:08

    What about not printing rate accounts where the monthly rate exceeds 50% of the average amount for that client and only after an investigation, bill the account. in the mean time they should carry on printing the estimated amount until satisfied that the amount is correct and the client has been notified.

  • Melly30 - 2011-02-02 16:11

    And the lesson is??????????????????????

  • Egg-Zachary - 2011-02-02 16:14

    bla bla bla, always planning the implementation of a plan! Still getting the bills from a place I sold 19 months ago! Patience my hairy nipple! Always passing the buck, no accountability! All you worried about is your BMW750, selfish bastards!

      DeonL - 2011-02-02 16:25

      Oops. Make sure they don't black list you or get a Judgement against you. This can be a problem if you want to have more credit later on. Pathetic!

      k1dbl4ck - 2011-02-02 16:47

      If this was China, Amos would be disgracefully demoted at best or hanged at worst.

      Conrad Brits - 2011-02-03 09:14

      @k1dbl4ck, shouldn't that read: "disgracefully demoted at worst or hanged at best"? Cheers

      Voltage - 2011-02-03 12:41

      Same here, Sold for 5 years now .. in credit for R1.70 .. and get my account everymonth like clockwork ... the R1.70 credit still shows. They charginf the rates to the guy that bought it and have spent who knows how much to send me a statement for someone elses house.

  • Smaal - 2011-02-02 16:14

    You can believe me when I say: They haven’t learned a thing. Just the spin doctors making some coin. That’s all.

  • woutieboutie - 2011-02-02 16:16

    we trying to "determyn" de problem, eish.....

  • Mike or Mpho - 2011-02-02 16:18

    The lesson is that it is better to overcharge then to under charge the tax payers, yet again. Eish

  • Trevor - 2011-02-02 16:19

    patience my ass, when an IT system costs more than R500 Million, it must work or they must back it out until such times as it does work. 6-12 months is bullshit

      NommerEen - 2011-02-03 11:45

      Either a ID-10T or otherwise a PL-KAC (problem lies between keyboard and chair) error ....

  • DeonL - 2011-02-02 16:19

    I feel sorry for the people of JHB, they will probably send a fact finding mission to North Korea? Rather use the Cape Town system, it works.

  • Gore - 2011-02-02 16:20

    "--- All of us must be held accountable" The buck stops with you Mr Mayor, not some untrained junior employees. Show the way, RESIGN.On second thought, that will not happen, so just draw your fat monthly cheque and shut up!!

      SAG - 2011-02-02 16:33

      Eish Gore. How are we suppose to draw our monthly salary if the Muncipality is broke. Dont you understand that this is our way to improve cashflow. Overcharge the consumer and that will bring in enough for awhile. We cannot sort out the IT otherwise we have no means to rip off the consumers.

  • themantshepo - 2011-02-02 16:24

    you useless bitches did not ask for patience when you gave me a R36 000 bill... to hell with you and patience....you lost along with that uselss shit head masondo can go to hell....you must all get fired!!!!!!!!bastads

      tdejongh - 2011-02-02 17:03

      Whoa my man. Where has the love gone ? This is what the ANC brings to this country ! The brothers are trying to overcome 300 years of oppression ! Give them some time bro. They are still learning. Surely you, of all people, understand.

      emile.marais - 2011-02-02 22:18

      tdejongh I hope you are being sarcastic as they are not 'brothers' but public officials, or you consider them fellow Yardies from the Ends? If you can't do the job get out! Do we need to wait 300 years for them to 'learn'? Life is to short for that buddy.

      Gazza Boy - 2011-02-03 08:43

      This is a spill out from the government that you helped vote into power. I hope you are beginning to see the light.

  • chantal de pierres - 2011-02-02 16:27

    I do feel that the city of Jhb needs to investigate their IT suppliers/contract as they are obviously not able to supply the service required.

      MJ77 - 2011-02-03 09:21

      The SAP ISU Billing system is world class. Worldwide it bills approx. 1.5 billion utility customers. Masana was a (now bankrupt) BEE implementation partner headed by the Rev Frank Chikane. I am sure this explains all. Remember the old addage :'Garbage in garbage out" - no execption at City of JHB.

      simone.coetzer - 2011-02-03 12:17

      I don't think Chantal is implying their is a problem with SAP itself (which would be doubtful), but rather with the team that handled the implementation.

  • Derek - 2011-02-02 16:29

    Register to vote and vote DA and get JHB sorted, don't moan if you don't exercise your right to vote. The DA can actually win Jhb by winning the most wards based on previous stats and a full turnout of potential DA supporters. It's registration weekend so sms your i.d. to 32810 to check your status

      Jungle_Girl - 2011-02-04 22:05

      Right - with Soweto, Alex, Tembisa etc etc voting for the ANC? We DO exercise our options but we're outvoted so until the ANC devotees decide they want a better future we're all screwed!

  • ccm - 2011-02-02 16:30

    After spending R580million on tenderpreneurs they ask the ratepayers and public to be patient and help sort out the mess!! WTF??

      Conrad Brits - 2011-02-03 09:29

      Take in to account that SAP (the software suppliers) gave Jhb an award for the "high standard" of the implementation!

  • Warren - 2011-02-02 16:33

    The ANC cannot govern. They are in way over their heads.

  • peterpanmali - 2011-02-02 16:35

    Eish, another CHALLENGE...

      Johnny - 2011-02-03 13:06

      Or STRUGGLE ?

  • dehaan1942 - 2011-02-02 16:36

    Well now, spend all that money on a system that does not perform? Do I smell a rat somewhere? Does the word "corruption" perhaps come into the picture? Taxpayers' money spent on system that screws the taxpayer! I can't wait for the next thrilling episode!

  • BigMoose - 2011-02-02 16:37

    Crisis? What crisis?

  • Snoopy88 - 2011-02-02 16:46

    I called the City of Cape Town on monday to report a leak from my meter in the driveway. They hadn't come to fix it yet so I called back with my reference number and they told me because there's paving around it they are going to send a specialist team to cut it out neatly, repair it and put the paving back, hence the delay. "But not to worry ma'am we've logged your first call and you will be given a rebate on your account for the water wasted." How's that for service?

      1gascan - 2011-02-03 07:53

      You pay for the service you receive - unfortunately in the other provinces that is not so!

      Snoopy88 - 2011-02-03 14:21

      What I don't get is the deafening silence form all these expensive home owners' associations that are suppose to fight on your behalf?

  • Derrick - 2011-02-02 16:48

    What a load of rubbish. UAT people!

  • logical007 - 2011-02-02 16:50

    'There is no crisis', but again 'Its being investigated' at the tax payers expense, while at the same time the tax payer is forking out just to keep there lights and water on!! Amos Masondo you missed you calling as a stand up comedian... you could have had a side kick called Patience....

  • semaj - 2011-02-02 17:09

    Dawn has broken, after a long winter night. Vuka for a change and get out of bed to attend to matters.

  • Sentor - 2011-02-02 17:14

    Another BEE project gone wrong. From the information available it would appear that the revenue collection rate is around 50 - 60 % with a 40% electricity loss and an 45%+ water loss. Their data base is incomplete...meaning that there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of properties unrecorded. Corruption and fraud is deemed to be the second greatest risk to the City after billing according to a risk analysis commissioned by the City. The City is hugely overstaffed, unproductive with operational weaknesses for which there is no solution given the employment policies, jobs for friends and family etc. and of course the unions. In the short term the solution is to privatise electricity and water distribution.

      DW - 2011-02-03 10:13

      With so many unrecorded properties they need to make the money somewhere to pay all these salaries, so lets overcharge those that are actually on the system. And if they dont pay, just cut off their utilities. Problem solved

      Snoopy88 - 2011-02-03 14:27

      WhenI sold a house in Germiston they wouldn't return the R4000 in credit that was deposited until the tenant's bill had been paid and then till the house had been sold. Every time I called or went to see them there was another story. Till one day I was told the account had simply been closed and they had no idea where the money was.. And then I got mad. It took me more than a year but I got my money in the end.

  • Tee Ehn - 2011-02-02 17:21

    These guys don't understand the frustration when there is no electricity. It pisses you off when that is done as a result of their mistakes. The Mayor approved the tender by IT company that is subsequently robbing the community. WTF. He should not be nominated for the next elections Down with Amos and his team down...

  • Grims - 2011-02-02 17:22

    Check this out. I am director of a medium/small software development company and tried to disseminate the R580 million. The rate for top software developers are around R350 to R750 per hour. When assessing a project you usually have a mix of junior and senior developers on site. A 50/50 split is very good as every junior has a senior buddy. Juniors usually go for R60 to R350 per hour. These guys spent R580 million. Let’s say R100 million is for hardware like a mainframe, networks and work stations. We can probably get a new IBM z10 monster in that deal with a network farm that will make most private companies go green with envy. 1000 i5 laptops will cost less than R 10 million. Much less, but let’s make nothing of it. Now R480 million is left for software development and licences. Licences for the next 5 years on the IBM z10 and network farm should not cost you more than R30 million. Now you develop with some serious technology. There is R 450 million left for software development. How long did these guys develop? 2 years? In this table the I.T. Company already has a 20% profit margin. Resources RatePer hour # of Staff Hours pppy. Cost py. Business analysts 450 20 1960 R 17,280,000.00 Project manager 750 5 1960 R 7,200,000.00 Development manager 650 10 1960 R 12,480,000.00 Architects 750 3 1960 R 4,320,000.00 Network specialists 500 5 1960 R 4,800,000.00 Hardware specialist 300 15 1960 R 8,640,000.00 Developers 400 50 1960 R 38,400,000.00 Total: R 93,120,000.00 This is an enormous team that will re-build almost any corporate enterprise system. R94 million a year. R188 million in 2 years. For a stupid little municipal billing system!!!!!! I calculated R300 million profit for the I.T. company. So. Which friend of Masondo got the deal?

      Tee Ehn - 2011-02-02 17:28

      I like these calculations... Now we know why he was saying "NO CRISIS". He meant "No Crisis" on his bank account.

      Sentor - 2011-02-02 20:07

      I seem to remember that there were claims that some senior ANC personalities were listed as directors of Masana techologies. The broederbond handled petty cash when compared to this lot!

      AJ - 2011-02-03 05:17

      @Grims, absolutely correct and you can pretty much apply the same wastage to any tender large or small, from IT, to catering, to road 'maintenance'. The money is gone! Connected cadre's who are a miniscule percentage of the population make millions overnight, supported no less, by some of the poorest people on the planet. Go figure...

      Observer - 2011-02-03 08:35

      Thanks for doing this Grims. When you break down the numbers, it's absurdly obvious someone was getting a kickback. Now, in an ideal world, this sort of thing would have been done by some sort of watchdog or ministry in the government. Ahh..but that's too obvious, isn't it? Would recommend you send the above figures in as a letter to the paper.

      MJ77 - 2011-02-03 09:46

      Grims I can see you are a director of a small firm. Your resource rates are way too low. SAP resources are much more expensive (test the market). They have not been developing for 2 years. This has been on the go for at least 4 years. Believe me it is not a stupid little municipal system, however I agree the implementation partner Masana Technologies headed by the Rev Frank Chikane is bankrupt dead and buried. The cost is as result of changing implementation partners (Accenture the know how partner left the project after being reduced to a sub-contractor of Masana). They sucessfully implemented SAP ISU and R3 at City Power, City of Cape Town and City of Tshwane and other utilities such as Nampower, Botswana Water etc. IBM was brought in to rescue the situation after Masana couldn't do the job. The system is complicated but world class. Approx 1.5 bilion utility customers are billed with SAP ISU worldwide. You need competent staff however who understand the business processes of a utility and a municipal enviroment and believe me the procesess aren't always simple as you put it. Remember "garbage in, garbage out"

      carol321 - 2011-02-03 23:19

      The Phakama Project is NOT the operating system that the City implemented for it's billing system, as Amos wants you all to believe. Project Phakama is actually a fancy customer care centre incorporating all the service departments into one, thus making it more efficient (supposedly) for the consumer. The new computer system they're using is just a SMALL part of the Phakama debacle that has taken 3-4 years to get off the ground. Now isn't that interesting!

  • Macho Mike - 2011-02-02 18:11

    Eish, lessons learnt hey? And the cow jumped over the moon, Humpty Dumpty was put back together again, Father Christmas is comming at Easter, Noddy has broken up with Big Ears and Little Red Riding Hood is in love with Cinderella.

  • steven.m.armour - 2011-02-02 18:16

    The old saying is S.I.S.O

  • Rick - 2011-02-02 18:20

    It has been 17 years of the most arrogant, inept governance - don't tell me and ANC governed entity has learned anything. My R60 000 water bill was paid the other day. As was my R65000 electricity bill. You bunch of idiots are incapable of learning.

  • E - 2011-02-02 19:42

    This Tao fool (Finance dept head or something) has the sole responsibility to manage the income and expenditure of the JHB council. If he persist in cutting off customers, where is his income going to come from? Only answer is: Increase the bills for those few that are not being cut of. Any business has bad debts. BUT no business goes flat out to antagonise their customer base and on top of that try to squeeze them dry. What a sot! Can only be an ANC cadre. Why not promote him to run the ANC finances!!

      AJ - 2011-02-03 05:22

      @E: Parks Tau is 33 years old. He is only looking up to his masters, further up the ladder, figuring out whoase ass to kiss to further his next move. He ain't worried or concerned about the many people he is supposed to be acting on behalf of.

  • E - 2011-02-02 19:56

    This Tao fool (Finance dept head or something) has the sole responsibility to manage the income and expenditure of the JHB council. If he persist in cutting off customers, where is his income going to come from? Only answer is: Increase the bills for those few that are not being cut of. Any business has bad debts. BUT no business goes flat out to antagonise their good customer base and on top of that try to squeeze them dry. What a sot! Can only be an ANC cadre. Why not promote him to run the ANC finances!!

  • Mike - 2011-02-02 20:15

    What do you mean "the City has learned lessons". This is the responsibility of individuals. Resign now you plonkers & let SARS get on with the job

  • Wishbone - 2011-02-02 21:22

    R580million and you still can't get it right! WTF!?!? AmaUseless!

      Gazza Boy - 2011-02-03 08:51

      They can spend (embezzle)as much money as they like on the system but with the monkeys they have got running it will never work !

  • marco - 2011-02-02 21:26

    If the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality can only get rid off all those 1960's,1970's and 1980's grotty SKYLINES like the Carlton Centre Office,Marble Towers,Kwa Dukaza Egoli Hotel,Southern Life Centre,IBM Building,the 209 Smit Street Building and Logistics House which by the way having looked at google's streetview recently found this building "Logistics House" windows smashed in and start building skyscrapers that looks more and more like NEW YORK,CHICAGO or HONG KONG and other glass cladding type 100 storey plus Skylines the world over then that will show that we've evolved to be classified as a modern city.Johannesburg don't have a single high rise building in the world's list of 100 tallest buildings which is rather embarrassing and yet according to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and NASA Astrophysics Data Systems Organization Johannesburg is larger in area size than Manhattan,the Bronx and Brooklyn Boroughs put togeher.Come on Joburg "These are the hands that buildt South Africa."from the freckled hills to the steel and glass canyons from the stony fields to hanging steel from skies from diggin in our pockets for a reason not to say goodbye.

  • Rob - 2011-02-02 22:07

    Dear spokesperson, Sicelo, Humpfrey, Amos - everyone has the right to be stupid, but you`re abusing that privilege.

  • AJ - 2011-02-03 05:09

    I've got a lasting solution.......take a guess..

  • Michael - 2011-02-03 06:40

    Vote ANC!!! Better Life for All !!!!!?????

  • Sentor - 2011-02-03 08:12

    Vodacom have around 20 million customers and a system which must cope with local and International billing. I understand their billing system didn't cost anywhere near the amount paid by the City of Johannesburg AND they don't have non payment. The comparison is a good measurement of the cost of corruption and incompetence in the public monopolies.

      Johnny - 2011-02-03 13:16

      You'll be surprised to know how much it cost !!!

  • AndrewM39@24.com - 2011-02-03 08:28

    "All of us must be held accountable" - Who does this include?? The Mayor, the entire JHB City Managers or just the staff of the billing/accounts department. More incompetents from cadres to be hired.

  • MasterMind - 2011-02-03 08:35

    We will have a steering committee to plan ahead for a lekgotla about these 'challenges'. After 6 days at a luxury getaway, we will formulate a strategy to to to to deal with these issues before it becomes crisis and affects service delivery - bwaaa haaa haa haaaa - you useless ANC clowns are a joke, VOTE DA, WE WILL SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELVES !!!!!

  • John Clark - 2011-02-03 09:39

    There once was a mayor called Amos Who denied Joburg billing's in chaos Though many's utility charge Was laughably large And the call centre service inf-Amos!

  • DW - 2011-02-03 10:06

    Will they be patient and understanding if I dont pay the exhorbitant, incorrect bill? Or will they simply cut me off?

  • yellowdog.dave - 2011-02-03 14:47

    You will all soon have a chance to do your bit instead off just mouthing off on News 24. The municipal elections are around the corner - do your bit and vote in a party that can control things properly. SMS your ID to 32810 and check that you are registered - and then actually take the time on voting day to go and vote!!

  • carol321 - 2011-02-03 23:22

    Masondo said "more and more" municipal staff now had a better understanding of how the system worked. Oh PLEASE Masondo, your Phakama Project has taken how long now, 3-4 years to get off the ground ... right? "In Johannesburg there was a great deal of neglect by those on the frontline tasked with providing leadership to municipal officials," he said. ..."Neglect" being the key word. "We don't enjoy cutting off people, but the municipality has a legal responsibility and obligation to collect all the money due to the municipality," he said in Parktown. .... OH REALLY? .. so then why the hell don't you do something about those who steal?? "Measures were put in place to address the problems." ...yeah right, measures are ALWAYS being out in place (or so you want us all to believe). The thing is that you are all so damn good at creating problems, identifying problems, talking about problems, having meeting about problems, but you have no damn clue how to SOLVE problems. As Mayor of Joburg, you should do us all a favour and step down. You have messed up this whole city! And another thing ... Masondo said "more and more" municipal staff now had a better understanding of how the system worked. The correct way to do things , and ESPECIALY the billing system is to have two systems running parallel at the same time. The OLD system together with the new system, and to have competent people in the job who know what they are doing. THEN , when you see that the NEW system is working correctly, then and only THEN do you switch over to the NEW system without any hassles. Got it? ... That's the way things used to be done in the old days on the Council. Then you wouldn't have to utter this crap ""In one year's time, in two years' time, many of the problems... will be problems of the past," he said." For crying out loud, just how long is it going to take you to sort out this debacle?? Oh that's right, I forgot, you will probably appoint expensive consultants (yet another waste of taxpayer's money) to fix up the mess. But the way things happen nowadays, is for a crisis to arise, then to deny it and say "eish there is no crisis"!

  • carol321 - 2011-02-03 23:24

    Yeah Right!!.. Masondo said "more and more" municipal staff now had a better understanding of how the system worked. Oh PLEASE Masondo, your Phakama Project has taken how long now, 3-4 years to get off the ground ... right? "In Johannesburg there was a great deal of neglect by those on the frontline tasked with providing leadership to municipal officials," he said. ..."Neglect" being the key word. "We don't enjoy cutting off people, but the municipality has a legal responsibility and obligation to collect all the money due to the municipality," he said in Parktown. .... OH REALLY? .. so then why the hell don't you do something about those who steal?? "Measures were put in place to address the problems." ...yeah right, measures are ALWAYS being out in place (or so you want us all to believe). The thing is that you are all so damn good at creating problems, identifying problems, talking about problems, having meeting about problems, but you have no damn clue how to SOLVE problems. As Mayor of Joburg, you should do us all a favour and step down. You have messed up this whole city!

  • Carla - 2011-02-18 13:01

    While Johannesburg faces a water and electricity billing crisis, behind the scenes the metropolitan council has had to deal with an internal scuffle between companies contracted to implement billing software, an internal report penned last year reveals. The report by an ANC-led task team for the city also finds that the council made a bad decision in appointing Dimension Data, which is currently implementing the SAP software created to solve billing glitches. The report says that Dimension Data should be replaced by its predecessor, software giant IBM. “The decision to appoint DD is unsound and illogical and has exposed the [city] to extremely high levels of risk,” reads the report. “It was based on a wrong risk assessment. The highest risk lies with the departure of IBM because it is the original equipment manufacturer and applications vendor.” It goes on to recommend that the council rescind the decision to appoint Dimension Data “as the prime contractor to deliver the remainder of contract A117 and should appoint IBM as the prime contractor”. The report observes that both Dimension Data and IBM were brought in as strategic partners of the first company contracted to implement the software programme, Masana Technologies, but that “it is not clear whether the contract was put out to tender”. But Alpheus Mangale, Dimension Data spokesperson, says that Dimension Data was selected “under tender”. But matters between the two subcontractors turned sour. “IBM has taken a position that it will not work with Dimension Data,” reads the report. “The city was faced with choosing between the two … IBM advised the city that a mutually acceptable arrangement could not be reached between IBM and DD. DD cited unacceptable terms proposed by IBM.” Unfair process Furthermore, IBM was unhappy with the process used by the council to appoint Dimension Data, believing that it was not given an equal opportunity to present its proposals. The report says that the council received a R158m loan from IBM, but gives no further details. The task team, comprising three prominent ANC members, also explains the city’s earlier problems with Project Phakama, when it appointed Masana Technologies as the main contractor to implement software created first by Venus and then German multinational SAP. “We took a decision to ‘marry’ Accenture [management company] and Masana in an attempt to get them to work together. The marriage did not work and Accenture pulled out … there were lots of delays at huge costs while the transition with the withdrawal of Accenture was being managed,” the report says. “Masana did not have adequate capacity to manage the complex obligations … [and] underestimated the enormity of the task. It led to it being unable to meet its obligations.” Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that three of the directors of Masana had worked for the city, City Power or the Gauteng government within a year of it being awarded the contract. The city would not comment. Credit to: Mail and Guardian

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