City’s new charter

2013-10-15 00:00

THE days of indifferent Msunduzi municipal staff not answering telephones or replying to e-mails are hopefully almost over.

The municipality will shortly have a customer service charter in place. The draft 60-page charter has been drawn up and is in the process of going through a consultation process both within and outside the municipality, before it is adopted.

According to the draft document’s introduction, the charter sets out service standards that members of the community can expect to receive when they access services or contact the municipality. In the section on telephone calls, there is an undertaking for:

• All calls to be answered within five rings.

• Calls are answered with staff identifying themselves and their office and the person answering the phone has to be courteous and helpful at all times.

• Callers are not subject to unnecessary referrals to other staff members. There shall be a maximum of two referrals, thereafter the official must take down the caller’s details and undertake to get back to them.

• If messages are left on voicemail, the officials must contact the caller within 24 hours.

On answering correspondence, the charter says that:

• Municipal officials shall acknowledge both internal and external written correspondence within the stated deadline or five working days, which­ever comes first.

• Where detailed responses are required, they will endeavour to respond within 10 working days, stating the name of the official dealing with the inquiry.

• In cases of delay, an interim reply acknowledging receipt of the correspondence and explaining the reasons for the delay will be issued within 10 working days.

Other undertakings in the charter include:

• Rude, impolite and discourteous attitudes and behaviour will not be tolerated.

• The municipality shall foster a culture of transparency and accountability in its affairs by giving effect to the right of access to information.

• The municipality shall endeavour to use public resources efficiently, effectively and economically.

• Systems, processes and procedures will be simplified to eliminate waste and inefficiency.

• Complaints will be taken seriously and promptly investigated.

• The establishment of a rapid response team to help facilitate and fast track the resolution of widespread service delivery complaints.

• Each department such as electricity, water, town planning, roads and sanitation to have its own set of customer service guidelines. For example, if there is to be a planned electricity interruption to carry out maintenance work then residents must be given at least 48 hours’ notice. If there is a power failure and electricity takes more than three hours to be restored, residents should be kept informed through the local radio stations and when they phone through to the customer service office.

Residents frequently complain about the invisibility of the municipality’s traffic officials. The charter sets out standards for the traffic service — that there would be high visibility of control, traffic control, law and by-law enforcement, including eliminating points of congestion.

The charter also sets out responsibilities for residents such as the request to treat municipal facilities and property with due care; to pay utility bills timeously and a plea not to steal water and electricity.

It concludes by saying that the municipality aims to provide high quality services, but occasionally things can go wrong.

“If you are unhappy with our service, please tell us so that we can put things right,” says the charter. It will also provide residents with contact numbers for key services.

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