Panic over utility bills

2017-09-01 13:45
City says "It's up to residents to confirm what they owe".

City says "It's up to residents to confirm what they owe". (File)

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Expect no leniency.

That’s the word from Msunduzi Municipality to residents who have still not received their utility bills in the post because of a delay in printing them, on the City’s side.

The municipality said on Thursday the onus was upon residents to confirm what they owed Msunduzi and to pay it on time.

The delay in municipal statements to residents this month has left homeowners panicking that they may have their services disconnected.

The Witness has been inundated with calls and e-mails from frustrated residents this week asking when to expect their municipal bills, and what to do if they don’t get them on time.

The end of August has now come and gone and residents said they have still not received their municipal statements for August in their post boxes.

But Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said as much as they were aware the statements were posted late, residents should have visited or called the municipal offices to ensure their account was paid on time.

“If anyone was committed to paying for the municipal services already rendered, then they would have gone to the municipal offices that were open every day or even called them up to get their amounts owing.

“We cannot give an undertaking that no one will be disconnected should they pay late just because the statements were posted late this month [August],” said Mafumbatha.

She said accounts should have been paid by Thursday.

On Monday last week, Mafumbatha said that the printing of statements was delayed for a few days but she assured residents that they would be posted on that day. However, she told The Witness that the statements were “at the post office” on Thursday.

Mafumbatha said the municipality was in the process of implementing a new financial system and the printing of statements was delayed by that.

Some residents said they did try and call the municipal call centre to ask what their balances were but received “no helpful response”, and were told to wait for their posted statements.

“When I asked the municipality for my bill last Friday, it showed that my last payment was made at the beginning of June. That means the system is not updated. What is going to happen now? Will we be disconnected?” asked one resident.

Another resident, Johannes de Lange, said he did not receive statements for the eight properties he has up for rent.

De Lange said not receiving the statements had inconvenienced him because last week he had to personally go to the municipality to get printouts when the statements should have been sent to him. He also said he had to read the water meters at his numerous properties himself.

Another resident said she was afraid that the municipality would disconnect her electricity as she had not received her statement and was unsure of how much to pay.

“I even went to my ward councillor’s office and she said that I should pay the same amount that I paid last month. When I went to the municipality, they said they cannot assist me without my statement so I do not know what to do,” said the panicked resident.

Msunduzi used to also send SMSes of statements to residents, but this service was discontinued in May because it was deemed as unnecessary and wasteful expenditure.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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