Meter reading report ‘inaccurate’ - claim

2017-10-25 06:02

THE opposition party in the Msunduzi Municipality council has questioned the validity of the Meter Reading Statistics report of June 2017.

DA caucus leader in the Msunduzi council, Sibongiseni Majola said the report reflects inaccurate figures, which makes it misleading.

“In the report, only two commercial meters were identified for Ward 1, however, the area has more than 10 commercial entities, including two car washes and five public schools.”

He said it is questionable how, though the term commercial, which is used in the report, includes business and government institutions, only two meters were identified for Ward 1 even though the area has several government schools.

Majola pointed out similar discrepancies in terms of the report’s meter reading figures for other wards.

He said though it would be acceptable that the household meters in Ward 1 were not included in the report because residents in the area pay a flat rate, it was questionable that businesses in that area and government institutions had been overlooked.

24 004 meters in Ward 1 to Ward 9 and Ward 39 have not been read because residents living in those areas pay a flat rate.

“This means that businesses operating in these wards do not pay according to their consumption, and this is unfair for those operating in the other wards, where the flat rate does not apply.”

According to Majola, there are several consequences which will negatively impact the municipality if it relies on the inaccurate meter reading report.

These include the municipality’s ability to collect revenue, the municipality’s equitable share and its material loss which, he added, was in the Auditor-General’s report for the annual report for the 2015/2016 financial year R181,96 million for electricity (208 million kilowatts) and R119,72 million for water (21 million kilolitres) with the major contributing factor being the loss incurred through the provision of water to residents who pay a flat rate.

He said an accurate report would help the municipality ascertain how many residents need to be placed on the indigent policy and so improve its equitable share, which is used to provide basic services to the poor.

Majola said when the municipality took over the provision of water to certain communities and these communities’ database was taken over from Umngeni Water, the DA had called for a meter audit which would help the municipality determine which meter belonged to which resident since the database handed over to the municipality at the time had been unreliable. He said the meter audit would also help to determine the financial status of each consumer.

The Msunduzi council has taken a resolution that smart meters/electronic meters and prepaid meters should be installed in businesses and households which will ultimately do away with meters that are on a flat rate and estimated.

“With the installation of prepaid meters consumers would be able to purchase according to their affordability. Furthermore, the installation will help the municipality better its revenue collection,” Majola said.

It has emerged that the municipality’s revenue section is concerned about the delays in proceeding with the installation of smart meters/electronic meters as these will be highly beneficial to the municipality.

“We believe this will address estimated meters [reading issue and this will help in the] reduction of the debtor’s book [and the municipality will be able to] disconnect remotely [customers who are no longer purchasing],” reads the concerns by the revenue section as noted in a recent council meeting agenda.

“The ANC-ruled municipality uses service provision at no cost to gain votes which compromises the municipality’s revenue collection, which can be used to address the high vacancy rate within the municipality, power outages and with replacing the ageing infrastructure,” Majola said.

The Echo made several attempts over a week-long period to contact ANC Chief Whip in the Msunduzi council, Truman­ Magubane, but he could not be reached for comment.

Majola said: “We cannot afford to buy services from bulk suppliers and supply it to consumers at no cost and not place people on the indigent policy when the national and provincial government can subsidise these residents through equitable share.”

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha­ said the matter is being investigated.

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