Another Msunduzi billing problem

2019-02-28 15:03
City hall

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Municipal bills for this month are incomplete, and some residents believe the City is hiding this from the public by refusing to issue bills.

In what is yet another problem in a long line of billing disasters by the City, bills for February display the total charge but the bill itself only breaks down water usage for that month.

Well-placed sources claimed the City was not issuing bills to members of the public so it could hide its latest blunder.

And there are fears that if they don’t get the money in from bills not being issued, there could be serious consequences for the City.

This comes as residents complain about not receiving their latest bills and are unable to get them even when visiting the municipal offices.

One insider alleged Msunduzi was not issuing bills at the AS Chetty building as usual, because staff were aware that the bills were incomplete.

“They [staff] can’t give an explanation why this has happened. The bill only shows the total for the month and water usage.

“What if [a resident] needs to query their total? If there’s no breakdown of their usage of electricity, or their rate amounts, then they can’t do anything.

“A person can be charged R1 000 more than usual, but they won’t say anything because they know they’ll be disconnected.”

He added: “Some staff were surprised some people had bills. They would have got it from [the electricity department at] Havelock Road. But AS Chetty isn’t giving them out.”

One resident claimed he had gone to query his bill and was told Msunduzi was not issuing bills this month.

“They advised me to pay what I pay every month, so I asked them what happens if I owe more. They said I should pay a bit extra to ensure I don’t get disconnected.”

He said he paid the normal amount with a few hundred rand extra. “There is no point in arguing with them because I live with my parents and I don’t want them to have to go through the trauma of being disconnected.”

The irate resident said: “You can query your account from now until doomsday but in reality we know we can’t do anything. The City is too dysfunctional.”

CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, Melanie Veness, said she had received more than 100 complaints from property owners and businesses about incomplete bills or no bills.

“Others are getting 15-plus bills that don’t relate to them. I phoned the municipal manager’s office about it.

“The City has cash flow problems so it will be a challenge for them if businesses don’t pay.”

She said businesses, like residents, have not been receiving regular bills.

DA caucus leader in Msunduzi, Sibongiseni Majola, said he did not know whether Msunduzi was covering up the billing problem by not issuing bills, but said: “I won’t dispute anything when it comes to this municipality.

“If they swept this under the carpet, it wouldn’t surprise me.”

He blamed the billing system for the ongoing problems. “We are using the new SAP system and workers have not been properly trained to use it. We are really questioning its usefulness, because as per our assessment, it isn’t.

“We should get rid of it or else we will live with this problem forever.”

Msunduzi did not respond to a query by deadline yesterday and the mayor did not answer his phone or respond to a text message.

The Witness has reported extensively about billing chaos at Msunduzi that has been going on for more than a year.

The problem is worsened because those owing are subjected to electricity disconnections and a fee of about R450 to reconnect it. This has inspired some people to change to the prepaid system to avoid disconnections.

The Witness has even reported that Msunduzi is in contravention of its own bylaws when it does disconnections, but the City has denied this several times.


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