Msunduzi residents use on average 800 litres of water per person per day, which is way above the world average of 173 litres and the national average of 235 litres per person per day.
Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said the areas with high water usage were Vulindlela, Greater Edendale, Imbali and to a large extent the informal settlements.
His concern was that most of this water was literally going down the drain due to illegal connections and water leaks that remain unrepaired for long periods.
Thebolla was speaking during his maiden R5,9 billion budget speech on Monday where he announced the city’s plans for the upcoming financial year which starts tomorrow. “We are urging residents to help us by preventing and reporting internal leaks and illegal connections at all times,” Thebolla said.
He said the City currently had close to R4 billion uncollectable debt for water usage and other services that affected a large section of its customers, including child-headed households, pensioners and other members of our community that are deemed indigent.
“Gogo Thoko Cele from Smero did her utmost best to solve the leaks without success, she lived with this problem until she passed on. Gogo Thusi from Dr Vilakazi Road in Ashdown has the same problem of high water bills because of internal leaks. These are few of many cases that are pervasive through the municipality but have been left unattended for years,” said Thebolla.
He said the maintenance of the city’s infrastructure was among the top priorities for 2020/21 as this also impacted the municipality’s financial stability.
Thebolla said Msunduzi Municipality was facing significant fiscal and service delivery difficulties, which undermined the effective and efficient performance of its functions and mandate. He told council that these challenges would become increasingly severe and unless focused action is undertaken to address the underlying causes such as the billing issues, or else the city “will run a risk of becoming a grant dependent”.
“In order to tackle this challenge, we have ring-fenced funds that will be utilised exclusively to improve billing accuracy. The billing complaints have been a major bone of contention in every session of our public izimbizo that we hold every year. The contested billings have been a main reason of accumulated debts and ratepayers unwilling to pay.”
On the state of cleanliness of the city, Thebolla said they were committed to eradicating the negative narrative that the municipality attracted from all sectors of the society.
“I have been disturbed to see our beautiful city dirty in recent times. On behalf of the city, I again apologies for this unacceptable state of affairs.
“A dirty city is shameful, and cause for justifiable public outrage.”
He said the municipality recently appointed a senior manager for the waste department to take charge and provide accountability that was lacking.
A further amount of R30 million was set aside to procure waste related fleet and equipment, of which R15 million is funded at council’s own discretion and R15 million is from the municipal infrastructure grant funding.
An additional R3 million was allocated for rehabilitation and maintenance of the waste fleet in order to mitigate breakdowns and improve the equipment availability.
“We do appreciate the dilapidated state of our suburban sidewalks and kerbs, the overgrown grass and shrubs has been a major concern for most of our rate payers.
“R2,5 million has been allocated in this budget to procure additional brush cutters to deal with this problem.”
Thebolla also vowed to crackdown on corruption saying “there will be serious consequences for public officials working for the Msunduzi, who secretly also do business with the state.
This is even more imperative in light our current financial position.”
Thebolla said he also wants to eliminate the tendency for over-pricing when businesses provide goods and services to the municipality “at the municipality price”.