HUNDREDS of Amathole District Municipality (ADM) ratepayers joined DA supporters on Friday and picketed the district’s headquarters in East London in protest against proposed exorbitant water tariffs.
The protesters, led by DA MPL and ADM constituency leader Dacre Haddon and local councillor William Ward, handed over a petition to new municipal manager Chris Magwangqana, telling him the proposed increases were unreasonable and unacceptable.
Delivering the petition, Haddon said the proposed water hikes in the 2012/2013 financial year, which would be more than double the current rate, would disadvantage indigent and vulnerable ADM community members.
He added the proposed increases would also have a negative effect on running costs of businesses in the district, leading to further job losses.
The proposed 2012-13 water tariffs were adopted by ADM council on May 25 and will see metered consumers paying more than double compared to the tariff at the end of the 201112 municipal financial year.
According to the district’s new Integrated Development Plan, at present the municipality charges variable rates for metered water consumers depending on use and zoning.
Unmetered domestic consumers pay a fixed monthly rate of R25.26 irrespective of usage. This will increase to R26.75, which will remain a flat rate.
Metered commercial and industrial consumers will now pay a standard rate of R20.93 a kilolitre irrespective of consumption.
Public institutions and mixed-use standard rate of R19.93 per kilolitre.
ADM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the rates applied for consumption of more than six kilolitres, which is the household average in the district.
The Daily Dispatch previously reported the biggest increases have been reserved for domestic metered consumers, who will find themselves paying increases of up to 184% more than last year. The increases (per kl) are: For up to 6kl – from R4.21 to R11.96; For 7kl to 15kl – from R7.22 to R15.94 For 16kl to 25kl – from R8.42 to R19.93; For 26kl to 40kl – from R9.62 to R23.92; For 41kl to 500kl – from R10.58 to R25.91; and For more than 500kl – from R11.64 to R27.90. “Indigent and vulnerable communities are threatened with curtailed water service if general funding for water provision becomes a problem,” Haddon said.
“So I’m appealing to all consumers in these municipalities [in ADM] to resist these high tariffs and to petition the legislature portfolio committee on local government to attend to this problem,” Haddon said.
He further urged the district to reconsider the tariff increases for metred users, with specific reference to business and domestic metred users.
Towns affected include Stutterheim, Bedford, Butterworth, Alice, Dutywa and Adelaide.
The DA gave Magwangqana 14 working days to revisit the district’s decision on increases and to spell out new plans of providing cheaper water to communities.
Ngwenya said ever since ADM took over the provision of water and sanitation services from its municipalities, the principle approach behind the calculation of tariffs levied was the affordability principle as the tariffs were not cost reflective.
He said the municipality had been subsidising the provision of water and because ADM did not receive any funding from the department of water affairs and national treasury ADM reserves had shrunk through the years.
“ADM then took a decision that to be able to provide clean and healthy sustainable water and sanitation services, it needed to strike a balance between affordability and cost recovery,” Ngwenya said.
Ngwenya previously told the Dispatch that commercial consumers would not be much affected by the increases.
“The proposed tariff structure is favourable for them as they will be charged on a flat tariff, unlike the current tariffs where they get charged more for using excessive water,” said Ngwenya.
Friday’s protest was joined by ratepayers’ associations from Chintsa and Kei Mouth. — firstname.lastname@example.org