Grey’s water bill R20?million

2011-04-13 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality is working on reclaiming millions of rands in unpaid water bills from Grey’s Hospital.

This follows an announcement by municipal administrator Sibusiso Sithole during a media briefing at the City Hall on Monday that the hospital owes the municipality R20 million in unpaid water bills.

The briefing was held to update the public about the progress made in the municipality’s forensic investigations into its financial collapse in May last year.

Sithole said the hospital ran up the bill in the past three years.

However, municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma pointed out that the billing is based on an estimate since the meter at the public hsospital is faulty and has not been monitored for some time.

“In our collection process we discovered that there was a problem with their meter reading system and that the figures in their account were not accurate because they were based on estimates.

“It is in the interest of the municipality to be quick in installing a new meter so that the process of calculating their consumption can come into effect, with the municipality getting paid what is owed to it.

“The two parties agreed that the readings reflected on the new meter in the first month of installation will be used to determine how much the hospital consumed in the period of three years,” said Zuma.

Greys’s acting chief executive officer, Gugu Anderson, said she was surprised that the municipality announced the matter in public as if the hospital was avoiding paying the bill.

“Our bill usually ranges between R1,1 and R1,2 million per month,” Anderson said.

On a certain month last year, she said, the bill amounted to R13 million and the hospital’s engineer investigated the water and electricity connections because the amount seemed suspicious.

“The engineer discovered that the meter was not functioning. It became apparent that every time the municipal meter readers came to the hospital, they’d turn up the numbers.

“This matter was even brought to [Mayor] Mike Tarr’s attention, and in January [hospital] CEO Dr Bilenge met with the municipal management to discuss the bill.

“It was agreed that the municipality was in the wrong and that measures to resolve the matter amicably will be sought.

“It’s surprising now that this is talked about in media conferences,” said Anderson.

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