Were meters read or not?

2009-09-29 00:00

THE furore over uMngeni charging the new increased tariff for electricity early has thrown up another hot potato: were electricity meters read in June or not?

Howick residents were up in arms to find that their June consumption and that for part of May was charged at the new tariff, 31,3% more, which was only to come into effect in July.

Municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi told The Witness last week that the meters were not read in June as a result of meter readers transferring to the district municipality. He said this was why residents were charged at the new tariff for their June consumption once the meters were read in July.

The DA’s Pam Passmoor claims the municipality is misleading the consumers. She says the meter readers were transferred to the district two years ago, in July 2007.

Passmoor further claims that the statement by the municipal manager that the meters were not read in June is untrue.

“The DA has been contacted by many residents who were present when the meters were being read during June — a fact that has also been confirmed by the meter readers themselves … in fact, some residents also phoned in their June consumption as they have been doing for years, but these readings had been ignored,” Passmoor said.

Vilakazi has denied misleading the public, saying the meter readers only read the water meters in June and not the electricity meters as they were no longer reading both water and electricity meters.

He said this is because the uMgungundlovu District Municipality took over the billing of water from July 1, 2009.

However, his response has raised a further question as to why uMngeni did not make arrangements to have their electricity meters read in June?

This is in light of the fact that the district municipality gave all the affected municipalities a comprehensive timetable of the transfer process as early as December 2008.

uMngeni’s own tariffs’ policy states clearly that in the case of directly measurable service, namely electricity, “the consumption of such service shall be properly metered by the municipality, and meters shall be read, wherever circumstances reasonably permit, on a monthly basis”.

It also says the municipality will ensure tariffs are uniformly and fairly applied; the tariff policy will be transpa­rent; services will be cost effectively rendered and that adjustments shall be effective from July 1 each year.

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