Amnesty for city customers

Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo with Council Speaker Jabu Ngubo and senior officials at the launch of the amnesty drive.

The Msunduzi Municipality has launched an amnesty campaign in a move aimed at recovering millions owed in electricity, water and rates by households, businesses and government.
Announcing the amnesty on Tuesday, Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo appealed to customers to take advantage of the amnesty that will be running for three months. He told a media briefing that the amnesty was aimed at among others:
• dealing with water and electricity financial losses resulting from unmetered and unbilled services.
• dealing with the tampering and abridged water and electricity
• providing an opportunity to register households that are in the indigent category so that they can obtain discounts.
The municipality currently has 180 000 customers on its database and it is believed that the number will increase once customers apply for the amnesty and get registered. “I would like to encourage customers to apply for the amnesty during the open period”, said the mayor, warning of tougher sanctions once the amnesty window period has elapsed. After the amnesty, the mayor continued, there would be a council-wide clamp down where defaulting customers will be dealt with.
“The municipality can charge a penalty as contained in the Register of Tariffs and recover up to 36 months of lost revenue,” stressed the mayor. The amnesty will target:
• customers who are enjoying municipal services but not paying for them.
• customers receiving services but are not registered in the billing system.
• customers that are unmetered or metred but are not paying the municipality.
The customers will be given forms to fill and receive a SMS and reference number once they have returned them to municipal offices. In the form the customer will be required to provide reasons for applying for amnesty whether they were defaulting, tampered with metres or otherwise. The municipality would then consider whether the applicant qualifies for such amnesty. An applicant who stops in the middle of the process or refuses to provide specified requirements within reasonable time, will result in the amnesty being withdrawn.
Njilo conceded that the municipality had a tough task in recovering money owed and appealed to all role players at city hall, especially, to make the initiative work. “I would therefore request officials and councillors to support this initiative and encourage customers to participate,” said the mayor.
The municipality is owed over R2 billion with households accounting for over 60% of the debt while government and businesses make up the rest of the debt. The municipality anticipates recovering over R250 million in outstanding debt through the amnesty drive and having an updated customer database that will help improve its revenue in the future. The amnesty applies to households and businesses as the municipality is in discussions with government in a bid to get money owed.

  AUTHOR
Public Eye Reporter

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