City’s financial woes linked to billing crisis

A resident was shocked at receiving a bill for October 2018.

The city has only R300 million in reserves acting municipal manager Nelly Ngcobo told concerned councillors at yesterday’s finance committee meeting. Unless revenue collection drastically improves the city is facing a cash crunch crisis driven largely by the fact that some residents, particularly in nine city wards, are not paying for their services.
This week the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) asked for the intervention of provincial government as complaints about the municipality’s billing system continue to mount.
PCB CEO, Melanie Veness, said despite engagements between organised business and the municipality, members continued to receive inaccurate bills “There is a continuous stream of complaints from businesses regarding not receiving accounts, incorrect billing and unfair disconnections. We have engaged with the municipality and with the MEC for Finance and the MEC for Economic Development, and we have been assured of an intervention,” Veness said on Tuesday.
One city resident who is fuming about the billing bungles is Alvin Naicker whose parents have been slapped with a massive electricity bill after the municipality wrongfully installed a prepaid meter at his parents’ home. Naicker, who now works in Gauteng, said he had asked for help from Mayor Themba Njilo, and his deputy Thobani Zuma but had not received any positive response.
“I have spoken to numerous people from the municipality to address the matter but without any success. Instead, I have had to deal with rude officials who don’t seem to care about helping,” said the frustrated resident.
Another resident was shocked to receive billings for October this year, even though it is only in September.
Ngcobo said that despite the complaints, which the city is working at resolving, the proportion of complaints does not constitute a crisis.
“We have over 180 000 customers. The complaints about the bills are not more than 1000. Against this backdrop, it is not correct to speak of a billing crisis,” said the acting city manager.

  AUTHOR
Public Eye Reporter

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