Sanco calls on residents to reject Msunduzi tariff increases

2013-02-21 00:00

THE South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has made a rallying call to all ratepayers and electricity consumers to reject the new tariff increases proposed by the Msunduzi Municipality.

Today is the cut-off date for residents to take part in the public participation process called by the council.

A meeting will be held at the city hall at 4 pm today.

National spokesperson Dumisani Mthalani said Sanco believed “the municipality is ripping off consumers”.

Mthalani said they had found that Msunduzi was planning to put an additional two percent on top of the 16% increase proposed by Eskom, plus an additional 18% gross profit on the ampere charge.

“This means that consumers will face a total of 36% more on their electricity accounts.

“This additional 18%, which the council wants to work into the consumer charges silently, is not only grossly unfair, but is criminal,” said Mthalani.

He said Sanco also rejected the “so-called tampering fee of R13 800” to be charged to households deemed to have tampered with electricity meter boxes.

“We say this action by the municipality is grossly unjust as people are never given a chance to examine the box or engage with officials on the matter,” said Mthalani.

He said officials simply wrote reports and charge consumers arbitrarily and without explanation.

“In the interest of social justice, consumers have to be shown the alleged faults, so they know exactly what is wrong with the meter box,” said Mthalani.

Sanco viewed the amount of R13 800 as grossly exaggerated because a meter box cost only about R1 500.

As for the proposed 10% increase in water tariffs, Mthalani said, “our position is clear”.

“The municipality has no right to make such an increase before it gets its house in order.”

Mthalani pointed out that a recent finding of the Water Research Commission, that Msunduzi is mainly to blame for wasting 63% of the city’s water, does not qualify the council to demand an increase from consumers and ratepayers.

He invited representatives of civic organisations to get together after the meeting to see how they could tackle the issue.

They are asked to call Qashana Mchunu at 073 412 5768 or Mervyn Dirks at 072 172 1152.

The municipal manager, Mxolisi Nkosi, said the municipality was also opposing Eskom’s proposed 16% tariff hike.

“We think the electricity is expensive and the hike is causing conflict between us and the residents,” Nkosi told The Witness, adding that the tariff was way above the inflation rate.

However, he said Msunduzi had no choice but to pass the hike to the end users. “It’s ridiculous and unsustainable.”

He said the proposed tariff might see more residents stealing electricity and added that illegal connections cost the municipality R90 million a year.

“Those who use electricity may find that they cannot afford to pay it,” he said.

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