Disconnected power supply sparks outrage

2014-11-07 00:00

THERE was outrage among Maritzburg residents yesterday when they discovered that despite their municipal utility bills being fully paid up, their electricity was disconnected.

It turns out that people had their power cut because their meters had not been read for months. The Witness was inundated with calls from irate readers and there was mayhem at the municipal officers in 333 Church Street as residents queued from early in the morning to get answers and to demand that their electricity be reconnected.

It is believed that about 600 households across the city were affected and many more households would be cut.

This is because the municipality received a qualified audit from the Auditor-General because too few meters in the city were regularly read. The municipality is therefore on a drive to ensure that 100% of meters are read before the next audit is carried out.

The Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) is keeping an eye on the situation and at the last meeting the chief financial officer said there were plans for meter readers to work on Saturdays to get to homes whose owners are at work during the week. Residents could also submit their own readings.

Several people said they had either e-mailed or personally given their readings to meter readers who called at their homes.

All wanted to know why was there no prior warning that the municipality would conduct disconnections. They said an advert, newspaper article or notice in their previous bill would have prompted them to check. Some questioned the legality of the disconnections because the municipality had not read the meters. Many were concerned about whether they would have to pay reconnection fees.

Those affected included people who said their children were writing exams.

Vikash Kalika was in utter despair when, after several calls, he went to the municipal offices where, after following a long queue of people with similar complaints, he learnt that he had been disconnected by mistake; all the readings he had e-mailed had been recorded and his account was fully paid up.

The municipality had not responded to questions on the matter by the time of going to press.

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