Queries over inflated costs, fall on deaf ears, say residents
BUFFALO City Metro (BCM) resident, Corrie Koekemoer has been attempting to rectify her incorrect water bill from the municipality (BCMM) since May last year, to no avail.
Koekemoer is not the only Buffalo City ratepayer angered by incorrect water billing, with councillors saying that it was something they regularly had to query and find answers for.
Last year, Koekemoer and her husband were charged R1634.81 for the use of 67kl of water for the month of May.
“It’s just me and my husband living here, how can we possibly use that much water?” asked a defeated Koekemoer.
Koekemoer and her husband live alone and, on average, only use about six to 10kl of water a month. Since the incident, Koekemoer has received three urgent final notices from the municipality, insisting that she has an outstanding payment.
Despite having been to the municipality to rectify the situation countless times, Koekemoer receives account statements indicating that her account is in arrears, on a regular basis.
“I’ve been trying to fix this for 10 months. When I first went in [to the BCM] they said it would take three months for the account to be sorted, now when I go there they just shrug their shoulders at me,” she said.
Koekemoer is one of the many BCM residents experiencing high and incorrect municipality bills. BCM DA caucus councillor, Sue Bentley said that she and her colleagues dealt with billing issues on a regular basis.
“It seems that every second issue we deal with as councillors, is a billing issue,” said Bentley.
“I am currently dealing with huge water bills that have no reflection on previous consumption, accounts that don’t arrive and interim readings for water still given, even though the meter is read and sent in religiously each month by the 20th,” she said.
For those who have exhausted all other options, fellow BCM councillor, Vaughan Holmes suggested residents should get to know their ward councillors as they can explore different avenues, regarding such issues.
“If residents are experiencing problems, I advise them to make use of our call centre first.
“Issues that are reported usually get logged and investigated,” Holmes said. Despite being a councillor, however, the issues were not always easier to rectify.
“To get something sorted out is an unending hassle, even for us who supposedly have direct access to officials,” Bentley said.
“I’ve worked hard for my money and if I do owe, I will pay the amount, but I won’t sit here and just let them take it from me,” Koekemoer said.
BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi confirmed that he had received a query to comment on the problem and said that they “would see to it”.
GO! however had since still not received comment from the municipality at the time of going to print.