Pre-paid meters plan probed

2012-12-03 00:00

HAVE Msunduzi officials been lying about how a plan to install pre-paid meters in all city households came before council for adoption?

This will be the subject of an investigation by the municipality following a private members’ motion by the DA’s Mergan Chetty.

Msunduzi Speaker Babu Baijoo called for the investigation after Chetty asked why officials had told the Infrastructure Services and Facilities Services (ISF) Portfolio Committee that the recommendation had gone before the municipality’s Executive Committee (Exco).

Municipal manager (MM) Mxolisi Nkosi told council that it had not gone to Exco nor was it necessary to go before Exco. Nkosi said under the Municipal Structures Act, certain issues did not have to go before Exco and could be taken straight to full council for adoption. He said the act had a list of such issues and pre-paid parking meters fell into this category.

However, Chetty pointed to the confusion around the process, which prompted the speaker to say that the matter would be investigated.

DA councillor Vic Winterbach questioned the MM’s interpretation of the Municipal Structures Act. Winterbach said the pre-paid meter plan would have to first go to Exco before being brought to council, because the installation would require the changing of by-laws.

Baijoo told Winterbach that he should wait for the investigation to raise his concerns. “You will be called then,” he said.

The council took a blanket decision in November to install pre-paid meters in all residential properties. However, questions have been raised about the dearth of information on the cost to consumers of the new system and the lack of public consultation on the decision. Residents would have to bear the cost of installation at R2 500 per meter, an overall cost of up to R110 million. There is also the issue of rampant theft from pre-paid meters, with the municipality currently losing about R100 million on its existing 18 000 pay-as-you-go customers.

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