South Africa, Pretoria – The City of Tshwane’s billing system has come under investigation from the new administration.
Finance MMC Mare-Lise Fourie told the Pretoria News that part of the investigation would look at the performance of the meter readers, who had been accused of not doing their duty properly. “The performance of the meter readers escalates into estimates of the meter accounts,” Fourie said.
The estimation of water meter reading by the City has often been a bone of contention from unhappy residents. Many believe failure to take down actual meter readings could be attributed to incorrect invoices sent to customers.
Fourie said: “In the event when you could not take the meter reading then estimates are done. There is nothing wrong with making estimates, but it should not continue for a long period of time.”
She said an estimate in an account must be corrected within at least a three-month period.
The MMC also threatened to crack the whip on meter readers, who could be found wanting.
“They (meter readers) have been set a benchmark which they have to obtain and if they are not prepared to do that I am committed to contract people who are willing to do the job,” Fourie said.
She said the investigation was not only limited to incorrect billing but would focus on every element in the revenue stream.
“We have previously communicated that an increase in data debt between last and this year June is incredibly high. So we need to understand what the growth in the debts is. We are busy analysing it and there are a couple of things that we are looking at as well.”
Regarding the incorrect meter accounts, she said: “We are also interrogating the computer programme that determines that estimation. We are interrogating if there is a problem with those.”
Fourie said it was important to point out that every single problem related to the accounts must be investigated individually.
“You cannot make a blanket statement saying all the accounts are incorrect. That is not true,” she said.
According to her, during the past eight months there had been slacking on the part of officials when it came to attending to complaints.
“The current performance is that they (customer care officials) solve 83% of the complaints they are receiving,” she said.
There had been concerns by residents not using e-tshwane service to access their municipal accounts that their statements were often delayed in the post. “All of those things add up to the distrust currently by our residents in the accuracy of their accounts. I can understand why people are frustrated and I can understand why they distrust the account that they get,” Fourie said.
Residents concerned about their accounts can email firstname.lastname@example.org