No laws for late readings

2015-07-20 08:33

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THE Democratic Alliance has called the Msunduzi Municipality’s late night meter-reading policy “unacceptable”.

And there appears to be confusion over how much power the city has when it comes to entering your property.

Following a series of articles by The Witness on municipal meter readers demanding to enter residents’ homes after hours, DA councillor Roger Ashe has said the municipality is “full of excuses”.

Ashe said there are no municipal by-laws which support meter readers’ demands to enter properties 24 hours a day, despite letters given to residents from the municipality stating that the “municipality is doing their work as empowered by the by-laws”.

Letters to residents refusing entry to municipal meter readers further state council workers are “doing their work as empowered by the by-laws, credit control and debt collection policy … which states that you shall give 24-hour access to municipal electricity meter box”.

However, municipal acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda was quoted in The Witness last week saying otherwise.

“There are no by-laws relating to the accessing or reading of meters after hours. The after-hours schedule of meter readers came about due to a high number of residents not submitting their monthly readings, leading to estimation for extended periods,” Madonda said last week.

The municipality said there are other ways in which residents can submit their meter readers, however residents say it is a “failing system”.

Clarendon resident Eric Saunderson said he had been submitting his meter readings via the municipal website for the past 18 months, however on his last two accounts, his meter was “estimated”.

“I have been submitting my electricity and water meter readings via Internet using the municipal website meter reading submission page. These have always been accepted and used.

“However, for the last two months my accounts [May and June] have come through with no reading and an average usage,” said Saunderson.

Ashe said he made numerous inquiries with the municipality and was told that the data capturer was sick or on leave, hence no submitted readings were captured on the system.

“I have received many complaints from residents who say they submit their meter readings regularly, but when the account is delivered, it will say meter reading was estimated.

“The entire system cannot come to a complete standstill because one person is sick or on leave. That is not a reasonable excuse,” said Ashe.

DA ward councillor Glenn McArthur said residents in his area of Prestbury have complained about “unbelievable customer relations” from the municipality.

“There is general management response criteria crisis in Msunduzi.

“As for after-hours meter readings, of course nobody has mentioned the ‘overtime’ word,” said McArthur.

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