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Champing at the bit because of rates system

Dec 02 2014 14:03
Carin Smith
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Cape Town - Delays in the issue of rates clearance certificates (RCC) by the City of Cape Town are preventing property transactions from being lodged in the deeds office and are causing huge frustration among property buyers, sellers, conveyancers and estate agents.

Fin24 reported that the delays in obtaining rates clearance certificates are causing huge losses, according to legal professionals.

The problems are caused by the implementation of a new advanced electronic rates clearance system on October 21 2014.

According to Alderman Ian Neilson, the City’s Mayoral Committee member for finance, the City is pulling out all stops to address these issues as practically as possible, including working extra hours of overtime and weekends.

In response to the initial article, a Fin24 user, who works for a large law firm, gave his take on the situation. He writes:

I would prefer to be stay anonymous as I do not want to spoil our company's relationship with the City Council. (The user's details are known to Fin24.)

I used to get about two problem rates applications per day (mostly poor capturing) but lately it is every single application.

Implementation problems

The head of the department dealing with rates at the City of Cape Town was in the hospital for a back operation, and down for three months. In his absence the City still decided to roll the new system.

This system went live on October 21 and went dead four hours later. Subsequently it went live again the next Wednesday morning, October 29.

History is repeating itself. When Council went live with a new Integrated Spatial Information System (Isis) it caused the exact same problematic results.

The electronic process (in layman's terms) for acquiring the rates clearance certificate is as follows:

- An attorney applies for figures;

- An acknowledgment is sent back to the attorney that the request has been received;

- Outstanding figures are sent to the attorney;

- The attorney pays according to the figures, uploads proof of payment, uploads supporting documents (for instance IDs and the power of attorney) and clicks the "documents verified" button;

- The application is processed by Council;

- The RCC is sent to the attorney.

In the previous article the City claims that the duration between the application being processed by Council and the RCC being sent to the attorney is three days. This is in fact closer to 25 working days (on the previous system it was about 20 days).

Also, on the old system the total difference between the attorney applying for figures and outstanding figures being sent to the attorney was a maximum of five minutes and not three days as it is currently.

The registration of legal firms on Council's eServices website is a huge problem:

- I still have a few of our firm's branches which I cannot manage to register, despite having logged countless times;

- They even managed to registered one of our branches wrongly and now we are not getting figures because we are "behind" on payments - because they registered it in the wrong name;

- If you register a company, there is no pathway showing where to send the actual statement of accounts, so we cannot pay them.

Apart from all of the problems listed here, the City is sitting with an extremely volatile system. It is very unstable to say the least and they have staff who seem not to have been trained properly.

There is an influx of similar errors launched at us, by the same people. Each person has his exact same unique error message. It is as if they are unsure of what to do and copy and paste their own unique error onto the application.

Their system, their people, their training, their help files, their responses - each of these changes handled as it suites them.

We have files where we have waited a month for figures.

I can release a lot of information right now, but most of it is confidential and a lot of people will get into a lot of trouble for sharing such.

The fact remains that this new system was written by someone who has no ideas how a computer system works. I have offered my assistance many times, with not even a thank you or an acknowledgment as reply.

These are sometimes simple requests, easily done with a system which works.

Disclaimer:
All articles and letters published on MyFin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

western cape  |  cape town  |  myfin24  |  rates  |  property
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