Escalating rates and taxes, coupled with regular water cuts and load shedding, are having a negative financial impact on already struggling local businesses.
LOCAL business is gearing up to take class action against Sol Plaatje Municipality for “appalling” service delivery.
This follows concerns raised by members of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci) in light of a proposal to increase electricity, water and refuse collection tariffs by 5.5 percent this year.
While businesses have had to invest in water tanks and generators to try and stay afloat, due to regular water cuts and load shedding, they are struggling to survive.
Many local businesses have indicated that they will have to close their doors if rates and taxes were increased; amid apparent apathy on the part of the municipality to attend to service delivery complaints – including leaking water pipes, illegal dumping, littering, overflowing sewage and uncollected refuse.
Nocci first vice-president Tasneem Mahomed said on Wednesday that the organisation had received positive interest from local businesses that wished to seek legal recourse against Sol Plaatje Municipality.
“To our knowledge many businesses have expressed that poor and/or non-existent service delivery is having a negative impact on their businesses. The escalating rates and taxes, coupled with continuous water cuts and load shedding, is having a direct financial impact on local business,” said Mahomed.
She added that local businesses were already operating under extremely tough economic conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The decision to litigate is considered to be an action of last resort. It was also influenced by the impending hike in rates and taxes along with increased load shedding, water cuts and general service delivery complaints including sewage, burst pipes, potholes, refuse collections and the filthy state of the city,” said Mahomed.
“Members have requested that some form of action be taken against the municipality and, as such, legal action will be the route to follow. We are not aware whether this action has been brought in the Northern Cape region before. However, we are aware of cases where this action was taken in other provinces and proved successful in certain instances.”
Mahomed said that, at this stage, discussions were taking place with Nocci members to raise an amount of R2 million to cover the legal costs.
“Thus only members will be contributing initially. The amount to be contributed will be calculated in accordance with a decision taken by the executive and will be calculated according to a formula.”
Mahomed said that she had agreed to act as the legal representative should the matter proceed in court.