Municipality firm on R340 charge to open meters

‘Drastic measure’ defended as being previously ignored part of city policy

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has defended its decision to charge a R340 fee to unblock prepaid electricity meters, saying it was always part of the metro’s credit control policy but was simply ignored in the past.

At the start of this month, the municipality blocked 3 400 prepaid meters, with a collective debt of about R17.5-million.

It has now announced that account defaulters will have to pay an extra R340 admin fee, together with their arrears amounts, before meters will be unblocked by the city.

It is one of the municipality’s strategies to recoup about R2-billion owed by households, companies and government departments, to plough back into services.

The municipality’s budget and treasury political head, councillor Retief Odendaal, said the municipality previously issued warnings to account holders if their bills were in arrears.

It had not implemented the blocking admin fee.

“The blocking administration fee has always been payable in terms of council’s credit control policy.

“The specific amount that is payable gets reviewed annually in terms of the miscellaneous tariff policy,”Odendaal said.

Residents have 30 days to settle their bills and a further 15 days before the city steps in and blocks their meters.

Previously, the municipality used an offsetting measure by deducting a portion of the money owed from electricity purchases.

Odendaal said that of the R340 blocking fee, R240 was an administration fee and R100 was a security deposit which would be refunded after the account was settled.

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