Municipality’s indifference will lead nowhere

2014-03-10 00:00

GIVEN the complaint by resident Mike Selby, the municipality deserves a thumbs down. However, acting municipal spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies’s comprehensive response must be given some credit. Here’s hoping that within the next two to three months, residents waiting for long outstanding refunds will finally get their money.

• Selby wrote: I have now reached the end of my tether with the municipality. Two cases which I wish to point out:

After I closed my business, because of the tariff increase, I applied for a refund of my R6 500 deposit. At the same time, I was informed that I was in credit by some R4 000, on February 2. I was informed that it would take three to eight months to get my deposit back, as they still had a backlog from last November. Today, March 3, I went to go and check on the progress, only to be told that my application has not even been sent to the auditors yet.

The municipality’s stance is, you pay us now for your electricity, but then when they need to pay you back, it’s a case of, who are you to tell us when to pay you back?

The second point is that because they have been averaging my home meter, I now owe them an extra R7 000 this month; so I go in to make arrangements to pay it off, because the account is in my wife’s name. I get given a power of attorney form to get filled in and get told to come back with it and mine and my wife’s ID books.

I get all that done, go back in and get asked, “Where is your payslip?, to which I replied, “No one told me to bring one”, only to be told that I was stupid and that I should listen to what I am being told.

If this is the way that we, the ratepayers, are to be treated in this city, we should all either leave this city and make them bankrupt, or we should all not pay a cent to them and make them go bankrupt that way.

With all the illegal electricity connections in this city, maybe they should concentrate on those before ripping off the people who beg, borrow and steal to be able to pay their exorbitant prices.

Jackson-Plaatjies responded:

• Mr Selby made an application for a refund of his consumer deposit on February 6. All things being normal, this application would have been captured within the next few days after receipt of this application. However, due to council revisiting its tariff charges based on the recommendations of Nersa, reversals in respect of electricity basic charges were applied to this account.

As is the case with all credit reversals and refunds of credit balances, council’s internal audit section is required to perform a stringent audit of such reversals and credit balances to confirm authenticity of such.

Due to the high volumes of credit reversals and refunds of credit balances, this audit process is taking more time than initially anticipated. All accounts for credit balance refunds where reversals of electricity basic charges have been effected, are on hold until such time our internal audit section is satisfied with the calculations of the credit reversals.

It is unfortunate that you were given a period of three to eight months wait for your refund. I must really apologise on behalf of the council, however, this matter is being investigated internally of what really transpired between the staff and the consumer. Council does not encourage such behaviour.

It is so unfortunate that you have decided to close off your business when the council has resolved to credit all consumers that were wrongly charged due to incorrect tariff increases.

It is a requirement to complete the power of attorney form if the account which you intend to make arrangements for is not in your name.

Council is currently addressing all illegal connections on our electricity network. Meters and cables for all illegal connections are being removed. If you are aware of any that may have not come to our notice you are welcome to call our municipal offices at the electricity department at Havelock Road and speak to the manager, Simphiwe Mchunu, who will assist in addressing any illegal connections reported to him.

If the consumer was called stupid, I request that a formal complaint be lodged with the municipality. The municipality will not hesitate to take disciplinary measures to employees that commit such acts.

Poor Timing

Over the past week, Witness Warriors has been inundated with complaints of poor robot synchronisation in the CBD.

Chapel and Boshoff streets seem to have been particularly affected leading to traffic jams and people skipping red robots as they think that the lights are “stuck”.

The municipality responded that the robot synchronisation was off due to a problem with the communication cable from the control room to the controller that affects traffic signal timings. “Our traffic signal team has been working on this problem since last week checking the system in the computer room and they have also started excavating to check the cables.

“We are continuing to search for a solution and are hoping to resolve the problem soon,” said the response.

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