A frustrated Buffalo City Metro ratepayer, Ndileka Shwababa, has been forced to depend on metro employees to load electricity onto her faulty electricity meter box since 2016.
The arrangement began in 2016 after Shwababa reported her faulty box to BCM. She says she was promised a new meter box as the metro was introducing a new meter box system then.
The box does not allow Shwababa to load electricity by punching in the usual keys and also does not indicate how many units of electricity are left.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch yesterday the townhouse owner said the arrangement to have metro employees load electricity onto her box whenever she needed failed last week on Wednesday when she came home to a dark house and received no help from BCM.
“When I got inside I realised I had run out of electricity but luckily I had bought electricity. When I tried to punch the numbers, I could not do it. So I called the municipality from 8.30pm [and was told to call later]. At around 10.30pm I was told the person on standby had gone home and would not fix my problem,” said the Headlands, King William’s Town resident.
“I probably called them 10 times during those hours and I was told the relevant person was attending to a case in Tyutyu village. I asked for his number because I live in a complex and we don’t have security guards.
“Homeowners open the gate for their visitors but I was refused the number and when I called again I was told the matter would only be fixed the following day as the person had knocked off,” Shwababa told the Dispatch.
Scared of the darkness she slept with a lit candle on and in the morning had to take a cold bath.
When the Dispatch visited Shwababa’s home yesterday the faulty box displayed error messages: “E. 07” and “0.00 kWh” although Shwababa clearly had electricity as she could run electric appliances.
“I was inconvenienced by the municipality’s incompetence because I did report this problem back in 2016 already. All these years I have been patient with them thinking they will eventually install the new box as they promised. I was more disappointed by the poor service I got when I was seeking help concerning something that was not even my fault. I had the electricity digits but I still slept in the dark,” she said.
In response to the problem Metro spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond said: “The city would like to apologise for the inconvenience experienced by Ndileka Shwababa.
“The metro has a planned programme to change faulty meter boxes in Buffalo City. However due to procurement processes the tender was cancelled as those that submitted did not meet the required specification and because of that the city is experiencing a backlog with complaints of this nature.”
She added that the programme was currently being rolled out. “We are working on the list we have and which Shwababa is part of.”