Sub-contracted meter readers blamed for Msunduzi losses

2019-06-14 13:07
City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM

City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM (File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A report tabled and adopted by Msunduzi executive committee (Exco) members says there are concerns that electricity and water meter reader contractors may be partly responsible for Msunduzi’s massive losses in revenue because of their incompetence.

The report noted that current contractors are using sub-contractors, some of whom may not have gone through the competency tests to read meters correctly and capture the information accurately.

Acting general manager for infrastructure services Ngangenkosi Mpisi told The Witness yesterday that there was a skills level and qualification gap, and some sub-contractors were not fully compliant.

Msunduzi municipality remains in the red because of unpaid bills by customers, including government departments, businesses and households.

According to the report, electricity department revenue needs to be expanded to reduce work given to the contractors, amid fears that the incompetence of some contractors is making the municipality lose thousands of rands on a monthly basis.

“Msunduzi Municipality is putting itself at risk by using the contractors in the revenue collection process,” read the report.

The municipality is currently licensed to supply 74 098 customers.

The ongoing disconnections are part of the municipality’s revenue enhancement strategy to reduce the city’s multi-billion-rand debtors’ book as some consumers were not paying for services which has compromised the municipality’s finances.

In the report, the electricity department acknowledged that it faced the challenge of being understaffed, and that relying on contractors was not yielding the desired results.

“The electricity department revenue is currently concentrating on disconnections and reconnections for non-payments of accounts whereas it should also concentrate on auditing of all the meters.”

According to the 13-month report, between January 2018 and January 2019, Msunduzi spent over R100 million paying contractors.

While the report says how much money was spent, no information is provided on how much has been recovered, thus raising questions about the value for money Msunduzi is getting through the use of contractors.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said it was concerning that the disconnections and reconnections exercise was not paying dividends. “The debt figures should come down but each month debt continues to escalate. The disconnections exercise doesn’t speak to revenue and debt reduction.”

Majola said some of the electrical contractors who were employed to carry out the disconnections were not abiding by the law.

“When we send these contractors to do the reconnections, sometimes they are issued with wrong statements and end up victimising the residents and using force because they are independent and not regulated by any code of conduct.”

Majola added that there was a lack of political will to deal with poor revenue collection.

He said one of the things the council had to deal with immediately in the new financial year was to undertake the resolution to install smart meters (electronic meters) and prepaid meters.

“With the installation of prepaid meters consumers would be able to purchase according to ... affordability. Furthermore, the installation will help the municipality better its revenue collection,” Majola said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.