City heads defend late night meter readings

2015-07-31 07:56

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IT was tit for tat at yesterday’s full council meeting when some councillors took on city mayor Chris Ndlela saying the municipality should sort out its own house before sending out night-time meter readers to disturb residents.

Msunduzi Municipality has employed meter readers — only for a period of three months, it was revealed yesterday — to work from 4 pm to 9 pm to ensure households whose meters were estimated for more than three months could be read correctly. However, the night-time intrusion sparked much debate when home owners expressed their annoyance at municipal workers knocking on their doors late at night.

DA Ward 31 councillor Rooksana Ahmed said the “majority of residents” call, e-mail or fax their meter readings to the municipality, however, it still remains “estimated” on the municipal accounts resulting in late night visits by meter readers.

“People say they sit on the phone for sometimes up to half-an-hour to give in their meter readings. Very rarely do people capture their own readings incorrectly and lots of the time, it is the [municipal] people who capture the meter readings ­incorrectly on the system,” said ­Ahmed.

However, Ndlela pegged his stance, saying Ahmed does not have access to all 138 000 residents of Msunduzi and can only speak for her ward. “To say the majority of residents experience problems with incorrect capturing is incorrect. She [Ahmed] does not have access to all residents and maybe the majority in her ward have problems but not the majority of residents in Msunduzi,” said Ndlela.

DA Ward 25 councillor David ­Ryder intervened, saying that perhaps the ward councillors can assist the council by notifying those residents who need their meters read.

Ryder said since the council is focusing on households whose meters have not been read for three months, a list of those residents should be given to the ward councillor who can also notify the residents.

The task of night meter readers is to complete all meter readings, without estimation, before the auditor-general completes auditing within three months.

“We know that people complain that no one answers the phones or reads their e-mails but we are looking into it,” said Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi.

Nkosi said after-hours meter readings were implemented because “a number of water and electricity meters remained unread for a long period of time”.

“This was due to many reasons such as premises locked, customer refused access, dogs, buried water meters, damaged meters, glass is misty or meters tampered with. The night shift meter readers will only be employed for three months and will only focus on certain areas,” added Nkosi

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  meter-reading

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