Ratepayers urged to report billing concerns

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Disgruntled  Buffalo City Metro ratepayers involved in disputes over the municipality’s faulty billing and meter reading systems have been urged to report their cases as the metro rolls out a new revenue campaign.

The campaign was announced by city manager Andile Sihlahla last week and started on Saturday.

Sihlahla urged property owners and municipal account holders to visit the Mdantsane, King William’s Town and East London municipal offices to report their concerns and disputes in relation to their accounts.

The offices will be opened from 8.30am to 1.30pm at Mdantsane’s NU6 municipal offices at the Mdantsane City Mall, BCM’s Munifin Centre in East London and King William’s Town’s Civic Centre.

Sihlahla said in an advert on Monday: “Notice is hereby given that BCM will be undertaking a revenue rollout campaign in order to assist customers in addressing municipal and meter reading related matters.”

Usually BCM does not open municipal offices on weekends but Sihlahla said the venues would now be opened to the public to deal with the billing grievances.

Former COPE councillor and now chairman of the Civic Movement, an organisation that assists residents from Mdantsane and surrounding areas, Khaya Twalingca said the civic body welcomed the initiative following meetings with the metro concerning residents’ grievances.

“We had the meeting in Mdantsane’s NU15 hall last month. BCM has been billing people based on estimations, over-charging people, and people end up being blocked from the electricity [grid]. That is unlawful. We also complained that BCM officials do not [assist] people efficiently when they go to complain – we asked them to also unblock those who found themselves blocked from electricity unlawfully.

“We certainly do hope that people will go and complain about the billing crisis and do hope that the grievances will be fixed by BCM, as they have also admitted that the fault is on their side. Officials have not been doing their jobs,” said Twalingca.

The new campaign comes after the council adopted a new tariff by-law two weeks ago to enable the enforcement of the tariffs policy approved in council.

The policy includes the implementation of the tariff increases for the 2017-18 financial year.

BCM mayor Xola Pakati said: “A decision was taken by the council to look into our billing system and intervene as many of our residents have been complaining about the system. Some people say they are paying more than what they actually consume for municipal services, while others complained that they are paying for double and separate accounts, and so we are trying to fix those problems.”

Pakati said some of the cases expected to be reported would be sorted out on the same day. — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

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