Ripped off by the City

Godfrey Swartz, Strandfontein

As a senior citizen who receives an old age pension grant of the lowest sum, I find it most disturbing and disgusting, to still be ripped off by the City of Cape Town on my water bill.

Your workforce of meter readers who were never evident on the job for whatever reason during the month of December 2017 gave rise to the sudden huge fluctuation of water tariffs by estimation.

It seems your department finds it appropriate to guess and estimate usage without considering any repercussions on the part of the users. In my instance you have doubled my usage from: a total of 12.000kl between November 12 and December 12 (an actual reading for 30 days, and at a cost of R148.48) to 27.508kl between December 12 and

January 17 (an estimate for 37 days and at a cost of R569.44).

Let it be noted that sewerage account becomes just as inflated as a result of the high water bill. Sewerage is calculated at 70% of your water usage. December 2017 – R247.03; and January 2018 – R583.40 How did your department arrive at this ridiculous figure?

Your department seems to believe that money grows on trees in my backyard.

My bills for the past six months show an average monthly use of 12.000 to 15.000kl.

This rip-off needs to be sorted out as soon as possible.

How many others have been duped this way?

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, replies:

The meter is read by a different person each month.

We take a meter reading using a hand-held computer terminal that provides relevant information about the property, such as the erf number and the address.

If we cannot read your meter, due to a car being parked over the meter or other circumstances, and you do not submit your water reading, your bill will normally be estimated based on previous consumption patterns.

The City of Cape Town is however changing the estimation system so that estimates are based on actual readings during the last three months to factor in the extreme water restrictions currently in place.

This took effect as from last Thursday March 1.

All cost estimates will be corrected when we get an actual reading. This is standard practice.

In cases where residents cannot afford to pay their bill, the City provides the option of an affordable payment arrangement plan for debtors to settle their arrears, where compliance with the agreed payment plan leads to the suspension of all debt management actions and no interest is raised until the arrears are paid in full.

Residents can help us get an accurate reading for their water meter by doing the following – make sure you know where your water meter is located; make sure it is not obstructed for example by a vehicle, sand or weeds, and is easy to read; and your water meter should be accessible to City officials at all times.

If your water meter is behind locked gates or if dogs prevent the meter readers from taking a reading, you can submit the reading yourself.

To avoid estimates, residents can also submit their own meter reading by entering it online via their municipal account on our e-Services portal.

Alternatively, ask the City to relocate your meter to the outside of your house, via the City’s service requests application.

No matter the type of water meter, black numbers represent kilolitres and red numbers represent litres.

As you are charged per kilolitre, you should only supply the black numbers when submitting your reading.

Please note that currently, under Level 6B restrictions, residents should be using no more than 50l per day each.

This adds up to approximately 1.5kl per month, per person. Residents should please check their bills to ensure they are staying within these levels.