Victory on PMB debts

2008-09-09 00:00

The Eastwood community forum is celebrating after winning a five-year fight over the scrapping of debts owed by some residents to the Msunduzi Municipality.

Chairman Fred Wagner welcomed the municipality’s decision to write off the water and electricity debts, and urged residents in his community to start paying “now that they are starting on a clean slate”.

Wagner said he made two trips to Parliament to raise the concerns of Eastwood residents over water charges, addressing the former and current Water ministers, Ronnie Kasrils and Lulu Xingwana.

Some residents feared they would have to sell their houses to pay the bills that “began to escalate out of the blue”.

The Department Water Affairs and Forestry (Dwaf) regulation unit intervened. Research that was conducted by water service lobby groups indicated that the municipality’s water tariffs were the highest in the province.

Wagner showed The Witness the scrapped bills that ranged from R3 000 to over R30 000. He said the municipality scrap not only debts for water and electricity but for sanitation and waste collection as well.

“We had no joy before Dwaf intervened. People were in arrears. This is great news for the people of Eastwood. I am relieved and I can say that it was worth fighting for,” said Wagner.

He said it is up to the community to make sure they do not fall into the same trap again.

He commended Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo and the council for meeting the residents halfway and choosing to write off the debts.

The Witness’ attempts to get a statement from Hlatshwayo were unsuccessful.

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