Chris Hani District Municipality is owed R1bn for water and sanitation services, from households alone. The debt older than 30 days owed by government departments as at the end of February was R74, 373, 287, with the health department owing R 20m, the highest of the departments.
Businesses have incurred debt of R 71, 896, 179.
CHDM mayor Wongama Gela disclosed the outstanding accounts in a virtual stakeholder engagement, when he announced that CHDM was forging ahead with water supply disconnections for government departments and businesses to recoup millions in outstanding debt.
The disconnections come as a last resort in the municipality’s revenue collection enhancement strategy ‘s ability to meet service delivery and development obligations.
The Rep had reported, (”CHDM warns on water cuts,” March 5), that defaulting customers were asked to pay up.
In response, irate residents complained on social media about the municipality’s billing system, saying the amounts were thumb-sucked due to faulty metres or readings were not taken at all.
Some had issues with their accounts not being mailed, while others complained about having to pay for water that was not available because of regular water outages.
In a press statement issue by the CHDM, the final pre-termination notices/letters of demand were said to have been issued to some defaulters in February to encourage customers to pay off their debts. However, only a few came forward to make payment arrangements.
Customers who were in arrears and had not received letters of demand were requested to visit or contact the revenue offices.
Gela said: “While the district understands that many sectors of the economy have been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, customers are encouraged to pay their municipal bill or they could face possible disconnection.
”The district had to take this route as the municipality needs income to meet its
”Key to this is the delivery of services to the community. ”The culture of non-payment for municipal services cripples service delivery and we have a responsibility to ensure sound financial viability for the district to provide services.”
He said the disconnections had been scheduled to start from March 16 and would affect business and government departments within CHDM area.
”Similar steps will be taken against all defaulters and will include households.
”However, measures have been taken to assist vulnerable groups and the poorest of the poor, as guided by our indigent policy.
“Council recently provided customers with some form of relief through its debt incentive scheme, which afforded customers an opportunity to pay a percentage of their outstanding debt with the corresponding percentage being written off ,” the mayor said.
He encourage customers who owed CHDM to come forward and negotiate arrangements based on their ability to pay and for assistance to access offers for indigent support.
This would also help residents avoid costs associated with legal action.