The Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) recouped more than R3.5m from its defaulting customers after it implemented its revenue management strategy and disconnected those who were not paying for water provision.
In February, the CHDM announced its intention to disconnect water. It served non-paying businesses and government departments with letters and convened engagements to discuss the matter.
In the second week of April the district municipality began its water disconnection programme that resulted in the payment of more than R3.5m by customers. Of this amount, R2m was paid by the public works department alone.
CHDM mayor Wongama Gela said there was a culture of non-payment for services which retarded the operations of the municipality.
“We are now faced with limited resources to maintain the very infrastructure that must function optimally to ensure people receive this precious service.
“We fully recognise the significance of water for our overall health. However, if consumers neglect their responsibility to pay and even continue to ignore demands for payment for a service they have received, they leave us with no option but to enforce our revenue management strategy to the letter,” said Gela.
The CHDM has been struggling to meet its revenue collection projections, an issue that was also picked up by the provincial treasury in the first quarter budget adjustment submission.
Government departments and businesses owe the CHDM a combined R120m, while households owe a staggering R1.9b.
The mayor indicated that the municipality had been confronted with a steep decline in revenue collection; a situation he said directly impacted on the ability of the institution to deliver services.
“We will tirelessly encourage consumers to pay their water and sanitation accounts because we have a responsibility to provide these services. We have taken note of the response by the entities that have come forth, either to make payment arrangements or fully pay their debt. We still urge all defaulters to play their part in ensuring that we deliver to their expectations,” said Gela.
The CHDM has developed two registers for water and sanitation services bills. The first register consists of defaulting customers who failed to respond to the call to pay their bills, even after they had received written final pre-termination notices, and the second are defaulting customers who responded immediately to the reminder of debt.
Gela indicated that phase one of the water disconnections targeting businesses and government departments would continue until all non-responsive customers were reached.
The municipality has not yet developed a plan and schedule for the disconnection of households which will be preceded by engagements with all affected customers.