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Residents up in arms about municipal accounts

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The situation with rendering of municipal accounts for assessment rates and services by the municipality has lately become a topic of discussion whenever residents of the city meet.
A great number of residents claim that they do not receive accounts at all, others receive but the accounts are incorrect. When invited to take up the matter with the municipality, the reply is that it is impossible to contact the responsible officials because the lines are always busy. “But if you do not pay your account in time, the municipality does not hesitate to terminate your services and demand that a reconnection fee is paid before the supply is restored. The usual excuse that the officials have to attend to thousands of people, does not hold water any more. We are paying for a first class service and insist that our problems are addressed or that the officials do their jobs so that the lines are not clogged with complaints,” an irate resident told Polokwane Observer.
One of the reasons advanced by the municipality for the debt book of the municipality that exceeds R600 million, was that residents do not pay their accounts as a result of disputes regarding the accuracy of accounts. The municipality has in the same breath engaged seven contractors to facilitate debt collection but was silent about the correction of accounts that is the root of the problem.
Some residents have indicated that they made arrangements with the municipality to receive their accounts by MMS or e-mail and that the system is working quite well. “The question may be asked why the municipality does not engage software that has the capacity to transmit all accounts electronically. Then we will also not be dependent on the unreliable services rendered by the SA Post Office,” a resident stated.
The municipality commented earlier that efforts are taken to correct incorrect accounts but admitted that some of the problems experienced with accounts, originates from the implementation of the system that is currently used.
Requested to comment on the situation, Tidimalo Chuene, Communications and Marketing Manager of the municipality said “We are still sending accounts by mail. We send MMSs monthly to registered consumers and customers are encouraged to update their profiles and indicate the number at which they need to receive the electronic statement by MMS.
The email facility is currently on request, but the municipality is at an advanced stage in terms of automating the monthly email accounts. Consumers are encouraged to update the forms sent with the accounts in the month of November or obtain a copy of the form at their nearest municipal offices. Some forms will also be sent to schools for distribution so that when the email facility is up and running, consumers should receive accounts per email.

Story: BARRY VILJOEN
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