Joburg billing to be probed

2011-02-01 16:33

Johannesburg - Johannesburg's billing problem, which mayor Amos Masondo recently said was not a sign of a crisis, will be investigated, the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department said on Tuesday.

The billing problem has resulted in residents receiving inflated bills and others having services cut off.

"Problems with municipal billing systems across the country frustrate the objectives of running municipalities that are efficient, effective, responsive and accountable," the department said in a statement.

"(It also) further destroys the citizens' confidence in local government," it said, adding that the investigation would focus on finding sustainable solutions for Johannesburg.

The department was commenting after Cooperative Governance Minster Sicelo Shiceka met with Gauteng MEC Humphrey Mmemezi on Friday to get his understanding of the problems highlighted by the media and residents who had called and written to the minister's office.

Mmemezi was given until February 18 to present Shiceka with a full report and a plan to resolve the problems, reflecting on the billing systems in Gauteng, but specifically Johannesburg.

"In the process of the investigation, the MEC further undertook to meet with the leadership of Johannesburg City Council and all the municipalities in Gauteng as the problem was not limited to Johannesburg," the department said.

It said that during the meeting it was agreed that the billing system problem in Johannesburg was old and could not be allowed to continue unabated.

A commission was being considered to investigate municipal billing systems nationally.

Masondo has attributed the problems to the implementation of a new IT project known as Programme Phakama, which was designed to improve the city's billing system.

"We empathise with residents currently experiencing difficulty and will ensure that the numbers affected are as minimal as possible," he recently told reporters at the council chambers in Braamfontein.

Masondo said that in December 13 404 ratepayers were issued with final notices for unpaid accounts.

Services had been cut off to 8 333 of these residents who collectively owed the city R320m.

"This represents less than 1% of the customers billed," Masondo said.

He said that when migration to the new system was completed in July, the city was initially able to bill only 744 852 customers.

"Through our data cleansing efforts we have progressively been able to increase the number of customers billed to 1 040 648," he said.

Of this number, no more than 8% of customers had queried their bills.

  • Cittro - 2011-02-01 16:50

    No doubt raising rates will cover the 450% bonus for outstanding performance by the council

  • Jaco Ellis - 2011-02-01 16:51

    8333 owes R320m?? Average account of R38401?? Sounds like the poor disconnected payers must have a careful look at their accounts

  • Investor - 2011-02-01 16:53

    Ths is supposed to be the capital of South Africa and the shining ligh of Africa and Amos is single hadidly making it the laughing stock of the world , and old people are being cut off without water and lights, what a mess - wake Amos up he is sleeping

  • Damien - 2011-02-01 17:00

    Try calling them to explain. You eiher wait for 1/2 hour or longer, or if you are lucky to get through, you speak to the most arrogant agents that ever worked in a customer service environment. You send e-mails and try calling again and when you are ask to speak to a superior they transfer you to a queuing system.

  • ian - 2011-02-01 17:10

    These bloody Morons should be fired. Masondo is an outright idiot who leads a bunch of people who haven't the least idea of how to run anything.

  • just askin - 2011-02-01 17:18

    8 percent of the customers mean that 83252 accounts are wrong if 83000 consumers are quering their accounts this is a MAJOR problem and when a household gets a bill of R1 700 000 for a months electricity consumption then the system is seriously flawed as the months bill is twice the value of the home in question. the time it takes to get the problems resolved is what is a major concern. time for each of the residents to write a registered letter to the mayor and copy it to the presidents problem line

  • Solo - 2011-02-01 17:26

    How can you believe those figures when one person in Bryanston alone received a water bill for R202m? Front page of today's Star Newspaper.

  • Bryan - 2011-02-01 17:29

    A African class World City and NOT a World Class African City

  • C Matters - 2011-02-01 17:30

    I was billed R 752,000.00 in December. Told to pay it and they will pass a credit if there was a mistake. After much time and effort, the account was credited with R 738,000.00 – I don’t know why not the full amount. HOWEVER we are now billed "INTEREST on ARREARS" on the absurd account . . . I am desperate to have this resolved . . . without the usual threat of disconnection every time

  • zubair - 2011-02-01 17:34

    Through our data cleansing efforts we have progressively been able to increase the number of customers billed to 1 040 648," he said. what he is not saying...when i spoke to the co. that takes the reading...they tell me..when JHB did thier "data cleaning" they cleaned out all previous records...if that is true....then no-one will have a foot to stand they will blame the IT co. added to does JHb estimate and account to 2 people in a house to be the same as 4 people.. and please everone dont get happy the so called commission of enquiry will take about year or 2 and all the buddies will be that time mosondo will be "re-assigned" to serve the people better..... a waste of time and money as usual. if JHB is found at fault...guess what will happen...a tender will be put out again..and another few millions will be wasted as they to do every yeat in up-grading the system......

  • bryan - 2011-02-01 17:40

    An African Class World City rather than a World Class African City

  • INTEREST on ARREARS - 2011-02-01 17:52

    Yup been getting "INTEREST on ARREARS" on my bill for the last 6 months!! These 'arrears' don't appear until December 2010 when there's an 'outstanding' amount of R2400 suddenly appearing on my bill. Makes you wonder if everybody is paying these 'arrears'...might be supplementing some shortfall! In some instances this would be referred to as fraud!

  • Thomas Edison - 2011-02-01 18:10

    The only probing the Jhb electricity department needs are a few anal probes on a few high ranking officials. That will get things straightened out, quickly.

  • ismail - 2011-02-01 19:08

    i live in lenasia...have voted ANC all my fact fought in the struggle...i cannot get my bill corrected for the past 3 years..i am tired an frustrated...but my VOTE is my bye bye ANC...

  • Julie - 2011-02-01 20:13

    The billing chaos is totally unacceptable in a so-called first world country. It is causing untold stress for thousands of us homeowners who can't budget because we never know what to expect if and when we receive our bills.

  • Rate payer - 2011-02-01 20:28

    I have had to phone the only Joburg helpline 011 475 5555 a number of times. The answer time is at best 20 minutes and at worst about 50 minutes, when I put down. The credit department has yet to answer in over 40 calls. I have not received a bill in three months. But my mayor says there is no billing problem, so there isn't (or he is lying).

  • marcotomaso - 2011-02-01 20:29

    If the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality can only get rid off those 1960's,1970's and 1980's SKYLINES like the Carlton Centre Office,Marble Towers,Kwa Dukaza Egoli Hotel,Southern Life Centre,IBM Building,the 209 Smit Street Building and Logistics House which by the way having looked at google's streetview found this building "Logistics House" windows smashed in and start building and looking more and more like NEW YORK and other glass cladding type 100 storey plus Skyline's the world over then that will show that we've evolved to be classified as a modern city.Johannesburg don't have a single high rise building in the world's list of 100 tallest buildings which is rather embarrassing and yet according to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and NASA Astrophysics Data Systems Organization Johannesburg is larger in area size than Manhattan,the Bronx and Brooklyn Boroughs put togeher.Come on Joburg "These are the hands that buildt South Africa."from the freckled hills to the steel and glass canyons from the stony fields to hanging steel from skies from diggin in our pockets for a reason not to say goodbye.

  • Eeeeish - 2011-02-01 21:10

    Some one needs to look at the IT company who got awarded the hugely expensive SAP contract, look at the knowledge base of the company who implemented the system. There was no skill and still no skill on municipality accounting system. It is a disgrace, who got enriched with the awarding of this contract, and I guarantee the company is still getting paid, and there are no penalties attached to this contract. Shameful!!

  • j - 2011-02-01 22:00

    Joburg truely is as they say it "A World Class African City". Not a World Class City

  • Too much is enough!! - 2011-02-01 22:49

    This billing farce is a good example of why it is not a good idea to place "political pals - comrades" in positions of power and control where good, solid, competent managers would have better served the trustworthy paying community better!

  • leon - 2011-02-02 07:43

    This must be a forensic audit including top management also and not just a system investigation. it is obvious that something is drasticly wrong

  • Harry - 2011-02-02 07:44

    People,people,people the Mayor is a well connected ANC memeber....quote"He is doing a good job"...he and his henchmen are overcharging us on purpose so that he can give his ANS buddies all the lovely extra money that we are paying,so they can piss it agaist the wall.....Will sort it out later...hahaha, it will never ever happen.

  • pete - 2011-02-02 08:34

    lets continue our efforts in hiring people based on color then, and who cares about skills , wake up history always prevails, these lessons should have been learnt a long time ago.

  • Alan - 2011-02-02 08:51

    Take it on the chin and fix it Masondo. It's typical of any government department to blame a system or tool and not a person. Seems that people in our government are flawless human beings? Their current "systems" have been in place for years and have worked fine up until now. The only change have been people, and people stuffed it up. Maybe our municipalities should just forget about forking out millions on "Programme Phakama" and fix "Programme Phakmaka"

  • someone - 2011-02-02 09:14

    COJ has been a past customer of ours, the statement made this being an IT Project issue is a load of hog wash. They have always had these issues internally, this being 'Attributed' to the IT service provider they have, staff that have been seen driving into the parking lot with huge Merc's and BMW's.... Staff when needed on schedules are not available or sick on mondays (pissed as a coot).

  • Dylan - 2011-02-02 09:18

    I've had one bill in 8 months, readings are not taken and the e-services website for meter reading submissions and problem and fault logging is shut down or rather "under construction" for more than two months now. Call joburg connect? No thanks I have better things to waste my time on. To quote the genius Masondo "Of this number, no more than 8% of customers had queried their bills" BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY OF REPORTING THE PROBLEM OR LOGGING A QUERY YOU MORON!!! My guess is number of problems is far higher than 8%, people such as myself can't be bothered and just carry on paying the average amount every month.

  • bheki - 2011-02-02 10:15

    This does not need the commission, it is clear that the managers that are supposed to be doing their jobs are not making it and they should be requested to vacate their offices. I think there is something more to it where they steal the money and inflate other people accounts to make for the stolen money- this should be probed. I wonder how do we justify paying bonuses to these manager even the major if the community the suppose to serve is not happy.

  • david - 2011-02-02 13:04

    No problem with billing???? Interesting to see that Amos Masondo and all the top brass from the Mayoral office, including Parks Tau were actually at the Braamfontein walk in centre this morning, interviewing consumers who are fed up with their queries not being resolved..... is it cos of the upcoming municipal elections ... or are they genuinely concerned????? Maybe now they will come out of denial and face up to the fact that the new system is a DISASTER and so is their senior management

  • Neelsie - 2011-02-02 13:51

    My VOTE is my power!! get some persons in power who are able to recognise a problem; the current lot is not that far-sighted!

  • Sea you - 2011-02-02 14:40

    guys guys your receive a bill from ESKOM FOR 100 MIL FOR ELECTRICITY consumed in your municipality.But you only receive payment from 300 people amounting to 10 mil the rest of that power goes to households that simply don't pay. ESKOM wants his money so what you do you your try to recover you shortfall by double billing the one's that pay.I am no going to tell non payers to pay in a election year you crazy!!!!!!

  • Yam - 2011-02-02 16:30

    I called the City of Cape Town on monday to report a leak from my meter in the driveway. They hadn't come to fix it yet so I called back with my reference number and they told me because there's paving around it they are going to send a specialist team to cut it out neatly, repair it and put the paving back. "But not to worry ma'am we've logged your first call and you will be given a rebate on your account for the water wasted." How's that for service?

  • Arlene - 2011-02-17 09:54

    My electricity was supposed to have been cut off at my house in Orange Grove in 2009 and I am still being charged for electricity. I also had Pay as You Go Meters installed on my property and am still being charged for electricity. This doesnt get resolved. Could anyone assist?

  • brian kamaar - 2011-02-22 07:38

    why do we complain and still vote for the idiots, just wait and see in the next few month RDP houses will be handed over , a few water taps will be installed . Viva corruption , we the voters are to be blamed.

  • brian kamaar - 2011-02-22 07:44

    this is the result of employing comrades instead of qualified people, then again why should masondo care he will still get the golden handhake

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