We communicated the problematic situation in respect of a mismatch between the cost of electricity bought from Eskom and what is recovered from consumers in Emalahleni. The Municipality in consultation with Eskom has accelerated their attempts to bring this situation to a point of sustainability and to recover from the increased arrears account following the high winter billing period. A request was also made to the public to support these initiatives by servicing their accounts.
Not much voluntary support over the past month was forthcoming and the start of the PAIA process by Eskom is ineventible any day now. This provides us with approximately of two months to make a meaningful change to the current situation.
Although the initiatives such as audits, installation of meters, aggressive debts collection, are been implemented, a real change in our community’s views on electricity consumption and payments are needed urgently. The number of threats of protest and counter reaction where cut offs are done or planned is a matter of concern. The continued first reaction by big debtors to stall payments by declaring disputes and rather to pay lawyers than to pay their accounts is equally a concern. Communication on social media and opinions expressed by some, suggest an attitude that paying for electricity is only the municipality’s problem, and not one affecting all.
As municipality we again need to request our communities to work with us to find a long term sustainable solution to this issue. This remains a cash drain and diverts funds away from service delivery. We know that within the next two months we can turn around this situation immediate steps undoing includes (but not limited to).
a) 20 000 final reminders have been delivered to residents with arrear accounts. This process has been ongoing for two weeks and will be concluded within a week from now.
b) First mass cutoff programme in areas who have ignores these notices started on the 22nd and will progressively be rolled out.
c) Different agents following different methods lose on recovery long outstanding debt, will start operating from mid December.
d) Continuing programme to bring previously unregistered users on to the billing system (estimated 15 000 plus).
e) From 01/12/2016 no motor licenses will be issued unless municipal accounts are in order.
f) Considering of onsite billing with piloting early testing early 2017.
As from December we will be operationalizing the new customer centre (construction in process) and we hope that by January this will create a much more efficient system for account inquiries and corrections. By March a further 2000 households will be formally serviced and electrical accounts opened By June we should have brought most of the currently unregistered consumers into the revenue net.
Specific targets will be published also from December to indicate progress made, also in resolving the Eskom account.
As before, the cooperation by all in these trying times will be appreciated.
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