Billing chaos in city — again

2018-03-29 14:35

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City billing has once again been thrown into disarray and residents who are not receiving their monthly accounts are fearful that the municipality will use this as a pretext to disconnect their electricity, as the long Easter weekend looms.

Msunduzi has been accused of “targeting residents in a desperate attempt for a cash injection” as hundreds of electricity meters were disconnected for non-payment recently.

The ongoing disconnections are part of the municipality’s revenue enhancement strategy to reduce the R2,1 billion debtors book.

Last month, Msunduzi collected more than R290 million from properties that were disconnected.

However, many residents have accused the City of jumping the gun by rushing to disconnect their properties when it has failed to send them monthly accounts.

Among the angry residents who are caught up in the current billing crisis is Scottsville’s Nompumelelo Mhlanga, who said she has not received her monthly account since July.

She has been paying R2 500 every month, an average that her statements used to reflect.

“Ever since they started talking about disconnections I’ve been going to the AS Chetty building at least twice a month to request the printouts for my statements because I honestly don’t know how much I owe and I don’t want to be cut off,” she said.

The Witness has reported extensively on residents’ frustration over Msunduzi’s failure to send their bills.

Businessman Prem Ramlall said the inefficiencies in the City’s billing department are inconveniencing ratepayers who want and can afford to pay what they owe.

“When you go to their offices no one is able to give you a straight answer about when you are going to get your statements, and calling is a waste of time, because no one picks up the phone,” he said.

Northdale resident Chris Naidu said he has been passed from pillar to post every time he goes and request his statements. He also fears he could be disconnected over debt he is not even aware of. Naidu said he also struggled getting through the municipality’s call centre as the phone rang unanswered.

Mother-of-two Liv Jenkins said she has sent numerous e-mails to the City’s billing department requesting her statement but no one has responded.

She said Msunduzi used to e-mail her statements without her even requesting them, but that stopped late last year and no reason was given.

“The municipality is inviting a revolt because we are not going to allow them to cut our power off when they are the ones who are not sending out statements.

“As it is I don’t know if I should be paying more or less than what I’m paying and I don’t even get any acknowledgements of the payments I make but at least I have my bank statements as proof,” she said.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha had not responded to Witness questions at the time of publication last night.

Last week she said consumers who have not received a statement of their accounts by the 15th of each month must e-mail billing@msunduzi.gov.za or phone 033 392 2741 or visit the municipality’s offices to get a copy of their statements.

However, many residents said they have sent e-mails, which are ignored, and that their calls go unanswered.

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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