‘Own fault for high bills’

2014-01-29 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality says it is well within its rights in disconnecting electricity where people have outstanding water accounts.

Responding to Monday’s report in The Witness that poor communities in the city are receiving exorbitant water bills, Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma was firm, saying that in most cases residents were the architects of their misfortunes.

He said cutting off prepaid electricity meters for water debts was legal as the municipality ran a system of consolidated bills. However, the municipality was transparent and residents had the right to seek clarity where they did not understand their bills.

Residents had complained that their high water bills were due to the city’s indigent policy being cancelled when Msunduzi went under administration.

Zuma said the accumulated water bills was rather due to the fact that residents had not renewed their applications for indigent status.

“Where you have renewed your indigent support [application], but were turned down, it could be possibly due to the fact that you no longer meet the requirements,” he said.

“If people are staying in RDP homes and are indigent, their electricity and water consumption should be minimal. Electricity and water requires a person’s usage to be disciplined based on their budget.

“You will be surprised that among the consumers who are complaining, some of them are those who are tampering with prepaid electricity meters and never purchased tokens from the day the meters were installed,” he said.

According to Zuma, residents could also not blame leaking pipes for their high accounts. Old or rotten pipes within residents’ premises were their responsibility, and not the municipality’s, he said.

“Consumers do not want to take responsibility for their leaks. If the [suspected] leak is not visible, the consumer can test the meter by turning all taps off, including the geyser. Take the meter reading, wait for an hour and take another reading, and then compare the two. If there is movement in the reading, that will be an indication that there is a leak somewhere,” he said.

Zuma advised residents querying their bills to do so at the municipal building at 333 Church Street. If they were dissatisfied by the service offered by the inquiries clerk, they could speak to the supervisor prior to referring the query to the office of the chief financial officer.

“If the query is to do with a reading that was not captured on the system, they can go to the Meter Reading Inquiries section. If they are still not happy, they can ask for Baboo Maharaj,” he said.

Residents who could not afford to pay the amounts reflected on their accounts would be advised on arrangements to settle the debt.

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