Outreach centre’s water reconnected

Tatum Wolf, Mekhi Europa, Kaylin Alexander, Jadine Swart and Anastacia Swartz, who made posters when they did not receive water.

Jorvan Community Outreach Student Centre in Woodlands had their water reconnected after having been without water for 13 days.

The Jorvan Outreach Student Centre offers a safe and conducive environment during exams for school-going pupils who are tutored and assisted with school work by founders of the centre, teacher Melanie Vandayar and her husband, Brian.

Their water, which was cut on Thursday February 27, was reconnected on Tuesday March 10, after many calls have been made to reconnect the water supply.

The pupils were preparing for examinations when the water supply was disconnected.

“After many calls, emails and communications to the City, explaining that they overcharged us, they insisted that we make arrangements to pay the arrears and then the problem will be investigated. Having received no response from the City we decided to contact Premier Alan Winde’s office,” Mr Vandayar said.

He said the City overcharged on their account in June 2018 and the interest has accrued since then. “The City continued to insist it was arrears,” he said.

Their water meter device was removed from the premises in April last year and fitted outside of their premises when the City said their device was faulty. They immediately replaced it with a new water meter device which was installed outside of their premises, which needed to be registered. The WMD outside of their premises was not registered immediately.

They’ve installed a well-point in November 2017 so that they could save on water. However, this uses electricity when they need to keep it on.

“We use this sparingly or not at all so that we can save,” said Mr Vandayar. The estimation of the water increased, said Mr Vandayar.

He said it was an inconvenience to not have water at the student centre for 13 days. They also had electricity deducted from their electricity bill to make up for the arrears. “It has become quite challenging and expensive keeping the lights on at the student centre.”

Ms Vandayar said they needed to take off from work to get the problem fixed.

“It was exam lockdown for the students, where they needed to stay at the centre and study hard to prepare effectively for the exam. They needed to study longer, we needed to shower, do washing and the lights needed to stay on longer. If this continued we would have to close the centre and our purpose would not be fulfilled,” she said.

Some of the students would need to use the centre for tutoring and to have a daily meal, she said. The City charged them for water they did not use, said Mr Vandayar.

Mr Vandayar would buy R500 electricity and only get R200 worth of electricity.

One of the students picked this up when she inserted the prepaid electricity receipt number into their meter. Their electricity bill has been deducted from because of their water bill.

They visited the offices of Joan Woodman, the councillor for Ward 75 who had arranged detailed printouts of their municipal statement.

“This helped us prove where the overcharge began and we then approached the City once again. We advise people to take a meter reading and a photo each month of the water meter so they have proof if they have future water queries.”

Ian Neilson, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for finance, said the deductions from the account have been stopped.

He said the account is up to date with the last payment,
R1 117.20, received on Tuesday March 3. The organisation has not applied for any of the City of Cape Town approved rebates to assist them and is encouraged to do so, he said.

You can call in your water reading to the municipal office every month on 021 417 4962/3.