‘No refund’ stories persist

2014-08-04 00:00

EFF posters still up and e-mail gremlins continue

Consumer refunds

THIS is a story that was to be over by now, with the backlogs being sorted out and consumers getting their refunds. However, this is far from the case, judging by Karen Ridge’s complaint.

Ridge has been dealing with a municipal staffer and she sent her an e-mail saying: “I think enough time has passed now — almost a year seems sufficient to get a refund. I am also extremely frustrated as I am pretty sure you have been earning interest on this amount for the past year and none of that has been allocated either.”

Witness Warriors sent Ridge’s complaint to the head of consolidated billing, Moses Ngobese, and he wants answers. He has asked the staffer concerned to: “Please advise why this has taken so long. Please see me tomorrow regarding this matter so that we can get it sorted out. Have all reasons ready, when was the application submitted, who received application, when was it captured and all necessary information that will assist in making a decision. We have come far with the backlog of refunds and we cannot afford unhappy customers. There has been improvement, which I appreciate, but not good enough. Complaints persist and this must be brought down to nil.”

In fact, following the many complaints by consumers regarding delays in getting their refunds from the municipality, the internal audit division looked at the issue. The internal audit report on the matter expressed concern that basic processes were not being adhered to. The report said that the chief financial officer should ensure that the processes for consumer refunds were updated and reviewed regularly.

The report recommended that all consumers who had applied for refunds should be advised of the status of their application, so as to avoid keeping them in the dark and referring their frustrations to the Office of the Premier, Public Protector, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Provincial Treasury, municipal manager and the media. “This always results in negative publicity and tarnishes the image of the council,” said the report.

Let’s hope Ridge’s complaint will find resolution and the “no refund” stories become a closed chapter.

Five-month-old water leak not fixed

James Mills first alerted Witness Warriors to a half-complete water leak job in Alexandra Road in April and it had already been like that for four weeks.

Since then, the municipality has been up and down, but the picture hasn’t changed.

Mills wrote: “I am giving up on our municipality clowns in regard to fixing the problem in Alexandra Road, just after Ritchie Road. Some 11 days ago, there was a municipal team at this site appearing to be fixing the problem, and I expected this to be resolved and the sidewalk and gutter to be cleaned up. On Thursday last week, I passed the site again and the photograph tells you its own story. Notice the pathway not cordoned off for a blind person or daydreamer to walk straight into the ‘hippo pool’.”

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha responds: “The municipality is working on fixing the problem. This was not an easy one, we undertook a close circuit TV probe of the storm water line that gave us an indication of where the leak is coming from. We then used a leak detection contractor who determined that the problem was a leaking valve upstream.”

Until the team find the leaking valve, it would be good public relations for more safety netting to be placed around the leak. Since this has become Pietermaritzburg’s most famous leak, it would be best that some effort be made to fix the problem as soon as possible.

EFF posters

Some issues never go away, like the EFF posters. Trish Collocott wrote this week to say that the posters were still on the Mayor’s Walk bridge.

“I guess someone climbed up there and tried to tear down the few on the town side as they have become quite tatty. The six on the Mayor’s Walk side are still very much there and so are the two on the bus shelter, just up Mayor’s Walk.”

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumabtha said they were well aware of the poster and that it was not only the EFF, there were other parties that still had posters up. Mafumabtha said they were working on strategies that will not be costly to council.

While other parties may be in the wrong, the EFF appear to be the only culprits to have glued their posters down. It also should not cost the municipality a cent because in the past the strategy was that the municipality would remove the poster and charge the political party for the labour, time and materials used. The section that deals with posters and signages needs to act with more urgency, as dealing with glued on posters needs to be an integral part of the city’s clean-up operation.

Street lights fixed

Judy Grobler wrote about the street lights in Marwick Road that had been out of order for a few months.

Grobler said she received a reference number (151984) and a follow up contact number (033 392 5038) that was never answered.

Witness Warriors sent her concern to the municipality and received a response that the lights were back on.

E-mail gremlins

The problem of getting e-mails to and from the municipality persists.

Messages continue to be delayed getting to recipients within the municipality and their replies are two to three days late. For a large municipality based in the capital city, this is an unacceptable situation, and the geeks down at city hall need to be proactive and get those e-mails moving.

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