Mayor responds to outcry

2010-09-21 00:00

MSUNDUZI Mayor Mike Tarr has responded to the outcry by city residents over huge and unexplained utility bills.

He said: “What many people do not seem to realise is that our city has been staring bankruptcy in the face in the last six months. This has been brought about by a number of factors, not least of which is the 28% increase in Eskom tariffs, and on top of that Eskom winter tariffs, which more than doubled the municipality electricity account from approximately R45 million to over a R100 million per month.

“Theft of electricity has been widespread … and many individuals who claim to be indigent have been drawing up to 1 500 units per month. Our tariff structure is absolutely clear and is available for anybody to read on the Internet.

“Happily, our financial situation is improving and we are relaxing the possibility of increasing the 50 kilowatts per month free electricity charge and will be making an announcement in this regard shortly.

“With regard to the increase in deposits, this only applies to persons who have been cut off due to non-payment. It is difficult to deal in a general sense with complaints which are coming forward, and persons who believe they have a genuine grievance should approach the municipality directly in order that their situation can be investigated.”

Meanwhile, the outcry continues. A businessman says it took him five days to clear up the confusion over a bill of about R20 000. In the end it was found that the municipality had made a mistake. This was acknowledged verbally so he is not sure whether the problem will be rectified or whether he will have to face another uphill battle later on.

However, he says that the amount of time he was forced to be away from his business cost him a lot more.

Another says his wife had to leave work and spent several hours trying to clear up the problem. He said residents find it frustrating being sent from pillar to post.

“You go to 333 Church Street; they send you to the electricity department in Havelock Road, who in turn send you back to Church Street.”

He and the others say every query is referred to only one employee and that this official is clearly not coping with the load.

Pensioners at Allison Homes, who found their utility bills consuming all their pension money, are being helped by their ward councillor, Peter Green.

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