Chamber says business can’t pay when meters not read
A list of accounts of businesses that owe Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) for water was distributed to the Border Kei Chamber of Business (BKCOB) for its members to begin talks with CHDM after its water cut announcement.
The list was issued after the chamber’s recent stakeholder engagement with CHDM.
According BKCOB secretary Adre Bartis businesses are not happy with accounts not being mailed to them monthly, inaccurate meter readings and account duplication which resulted after CHDM took over the water services from the former Lukhanji Municipality.
Bartis said businesses were more than willing to pay, provided these issues were dealt with. She added failure to do so may lead to a dispute.
“The accounts were for businesses which have not paid. We decided to send it around to members to inform them that there was an issue regarding payments.
“The municipality has not been taking meter readings for three years. ”The current billing people are receiving is incorrect – the meters have not been read.”
She said businesses could not pay for something had not used. “It does not make sense. The municipality needs to sort out the system.”
According to Bartis, when CHDM took over the water services from the former Lukhanji Municipality, it added new digits on account numbers, which meant some people receiving two accounts.
“That is why there is duplication. This means if a new tenant moves into a place they are billed for the previous tenants as well. CHDM now has the old tenant and the new one.
“This is not just about sending out billing, but making sure is accurate, because if they are not reading meters, the billing will not be accurate.”
BKCOB had raised these issues with the municipality.
“We raised these matters in the IDP with CHDM. ”The municipality told BKCOB they were aware of the billing issues and were working on a new system.”
Customers were also faced with the difficulty of getting their billing queries addressed.
”When people go to the municipal office to resolve issues, nobody wants to take responsibility. People are sent from Peter to Paul. The only answer one gets is that one must pay the account.
“BKCOB has been taking steps to resolve matters and highlight issues and we will continue doing so.”
CHDM spokesperson Bulelwa Ganyaza said the district municipality had embarked on a data-cleaning project.
”Among others, the process will help counter the challenges associated with customer data which has an immense impact on revenue collection. ”In addition, smart metering must be introduced to accurately measure customer consumption. This has been prioritised to resolve billing-related issues. Procurement processes are underway.”
Customers who had billing-related enquiries must contact the municipal revenue offices across the district or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Ganyaza said.