Task team puts pressure on iLembe

2017-09-13 06:01

He said the document highlighted to Cogta, which included major flaws and errors in the advertisements which appeared in local newspapers and a petition signed by over 200 consumers and received by iLembe on 31 May, was ignored by the municipality.   The task team further stressed that iLembe were not complying with the spirit of the Municipal Systems Act which requires community participation and proper notices to be issued to the general public.
“It also highlighted the fact that National Treasury have directed all municipalities to adopt tariffs that are cost reflective, that is, to charge according to usage and impact on the sewer system,” Manjoo said.
The task team presented an example, in support of the water consumption basis, that a R10 million commercial/retail building with 20 toilets will have a greater impact on municipal waste systems than a R10 million industrial/storage facility with two toilets although both receive the same property classification.
Prem Maharaj, another member of the task team, said: “Both businesses and domestic consumers would be worse off on the property valuation method. We have put together comparative tables illustrating increases of 247% for domestic consumers and 790% for business consumers.”
The task team also stated that iLembe’s proposed capping of property values to a maximum of R5 million resulting in a maximum monthly charge of R6279 was “inherently unfair, unaffordable and discriminatory”.  
“It would have the effect of smaller property owners subsidising larger property owners,” said Maharaj.
The document also illustrated comparisons with the charges of other district municipalities and metros, the majority of which use the water consumption basis to bill sewer use.  
According to Manjoo, the task team’s study uncovered that iLembe has amongst the highest charges for water and sewer in all of the KZN district municipalities.  
Yunus Vadia, also from the task team, said it was also very odd that iLembe’s water and sewer charges were higher than that of Sembcorp Siza Water who are a concessionaire of iLembe.
Another finding was the sewer revenues presented by iLembe to the task team at a previous meeting.
Task team member, Yusuf Nakooda indicated that on the valuation methodology in the 2013/2014 years the annual sewer revenue was R18 million.
“When iLembe changed to water consumption basis the annual sewer revenue rose to a whopping R50 million and improved over the three years since the water consumption basis was adopted. Why would iLembe now go back to the property valuation method when its revenues improved by over 300% on the water consumption basis?” said Nakooda.
According to Manjoo, when confronted with this evidence in support of the water consumption basis, ïLembe admitted at the meeting that they had erred in implementing the tariff policy.  
Pravin Singh, a member of the task team, stated: “iLembe acknowledged issues with the advertisements placed in newspapers and apologised for the wasted time and effort due to their misinterpretation of the sewer tariff policy. iLembe also admitted that there were problems with meter readings and issues with properties listed on the KwaDukuza Municipal Property valuation roll.”  
iLembe indicated however, that due to the budget having already been passed, it would not be able to change the property valuation method for the current year.
However, they would implement a revised sewer billing system which would be the lower of  a consumer's average sewer bill (including basic charges) over the 2016/2017 year inflated by 30% or the randage applied to a consumer's property valuation.  
iLembe indicated that this would apply to all consumers both business and residential.
Accordingly, there would be a fixed charge for sewer for 2017/2018 with no basic charge.
The task team requested that iLembe confirm the new/revised sewer policy by email, however at the time of going to press, no email was received from iLembe.  
July 2017 bills have been sent out based on this calculation.  
Ahmed Mitha said however, that it has been established that this new calculation was applied by iLembe only to businesses and not domestic consumers.
The task team has stated it will contact iLembe to clarify this issue and revert to the public.
All consumers are urged to check their sewer bills and report any discrepancies to iLembe.
iLembe mayor Siduduzo Gumede said that iLembe have acknowledged issues raised and are open to discussions regarding the system or method to be adopted as of next year.  
iLembe Chamber of Commerce CEO Cobus Oelofse was also present at the meeting.  
KwaDukuza businesses are now considering joining the Ilembe Chamber of Commerce so that business speaks with one voice in the future and to avoid such issues which take considerable and unnecessary time and effort to resolve.

Examples of the impact of iLembe’s initial sewer tariff policy on residential and business consumers

EXAMPLE 1 : Residential consumer with a property value of R3 million and using 30kl of water each month

Water consumption basis - R 324-54

Valuation basis - R1 127-50

247% increase in sewer charge per month - R 802-96

Example 2 : Business consumer with a property value of R10 million and using 50kl of water each month

Water consumption basis - R 704-96

Valuation basis - R12 558,33

With proposed capping at - R6 279-17

790% increase in sewer charge per month - R5 574-21

Created by the iLembe Task Team


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