AMATHOLE RESIDENTS MUST PETITION THE PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE IN PROTEST AGAINST RIP-OFF WATER TARIFFS

Metered water users in the Amathole District Municipality are set to pay unaffordable, exorbitant water charges this financial year.

Private water consumers will pay R287.75 for 25kl of water (an increase of 137%).

This represents an additional increase of R3 453 per year, which home dwellers will need to pay for water consumption.

The increase for metered businesses, industries and agriculture will be 100% more than the previous year.

I am appealing to all consumers in these municipalities in the Amathole District Municipality to resist these high tariffs and to petition the Legislature Portfolio Committee on Local Government (on which I serve) to attend to this problem.

This province cannot continue to tax consumers out of existence due to bad municipal accounting practices and inability to implement unpopular political decisions to maintain adequate water supply to the district.

Furthermore, I have today (subs: Tues, 22 May 2012 written to the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, asking him to intervene in this matter and I will be raising this issue in the portfolio committee meeting tomorrow (subs: Wed, 23 May 2012).

The effects these water tariffs will see further job losses as businesses look to absorb these increases into their operating budgets.

The Municipal Systems Act section 74 (2) states:

a) Users of municipal services should be treated equitably in the application of tariffs.

b) The amount individual users pay for services should be in proportion to the use of the service.

c) Tariffs must reflect the costs reasonably associated with the cost of rendering the service including capital, maintenance, operating, administrative and replacement costs and interest.

With reference to the Tariff Policy of the Amathole District Municipality in its “Objectives” states that:

“…tariffs must be transparent, cost effective and easily understandable by all.”

In section 4.2 of the Tariff Policy it states:

“Tariffs must be set at a level affordable to all consumers including domestic and business users”.

Clearly, this policy is being violated by imposing such high water tariffs in Amathole.

Unmetered domestic consumers get an increase of up to 6% for business while residential consumers get an increase of .059%.

Furthermore, unmetered consumers pay a flat rate per month so any usage above their specified categorized kilolitre usage will be free.

However what has occurred is that the billed users who are being hardest hit with increases are in fact subsidising the sanitation charges as well.

Of further concern is how much longer the indigent and poor can continue to receive their 6kl of free water.

What is needed to solve the problem is:

a) Improve service fee collection from all consumers;

b) Introduce an accurate and reliable billing system for all consumers;

c) Consider introducing one tariff policy that is fair for all;

d) Improve infrastructure development and water production costs to deliver quality water at a cheaper rate than is currently being delivered; and

e) Ensure that the poor and indigent have sustainable, adequate and a quality water service that is affordable for the municipality to deliver.

The time has come to stop the rip-off!

Fair and equitable water tariffs for all are imperative if economic prosperity is to flourish in this province.