ON Thursday Ugu District Municipality sat in council for the first time this year.
Councillors discussed matters from 2016 and among those was one of a pilot water system project that was initiated in 2014 after extensive consultation with the “sample community”.
The community suggested installing “Smart” water meters, in order to control consumption and billing thereafter.
The meters were meant to be prepaid and the municipality was going to sell tokens to users according to their needs. The system would also allow the convectional service for those who wish to remain on the monthly billing, However, basic charges were still payable even if one is on the Smart meter.
Council took the decision that the project be piloted at Gamalakhe Ward 26, with the hope of rolling it out throughout the district.
Municipal spokesperson France Zama said 693 households were used in the pilot.
“The municipality decided to try with a small sample so we can manage the outcomes better,” said Zama.
Later it was discovered that the system did not suffice.
Zama said the main challenge with the Smart meters was the incompatibility with the billing system.
“The Smart meters where meant to allow both prepaid and convectional service, however, after numerous attempts, it was concluded that the system is not ready to be rolled out in the district until Ugu has dealt with technical issues,” said Zama.
He said the sequence of readings turned out not to be compatible with the billing system, hence the credibility of the readings could not be established.
Municipal Manager DD Naidoo said the project has been discontinued and all households would be put back on the old meter system.
“As the municipality we have decided to discontinue the project and have those households already on the Smart system to be put back to the old system,” said Naidoo.
He said households that had already been billed and had already paid the bills would be credited and those who had not paid their bills, will be written off.
He said Ugu has a database of the pilot households and they had meetings with the owners during the project planning and implementation stage therefore there won’t be a problem of people claiming to have been part of the project and were not just so their bills would be wiped out.
Speaker Councillor Ntombifikile Gumede explained to council that the issue is not about the community not paying, but the system itself therefore no money would be recovered or be repaid.
The Smart meters where meant to allow both prepaid and convectional service, however, after numerous attempts, it was concluded that the system is not ready to be rolled out in the district until Ugu has dealt with technical issues