Residents threaten to bring city a standstill.
WHILE city councillors are still trying to get their heads around the new electricity tariff structure, Kimberley residents refuse to be placated and have threatened to bring the city to standstill.
According to the municipality, around 4 000 residents in the city, those who use just over 50kVA a month, are expected to be negatively affected by the restructuring in that they will pay substantially more than the expected 5.95% increase.
Residents have been urged to join a massive protest action next Friday (June 29) to ensure “the electricity tariff hike falls”.
According to an SMS doing the rounds, an urgent meeting will be held on Sunday (June 24) at the Mandela grounds (at the circle in Galeshewe) at 3pm.
“The reason for the meeting is the daylight tariff hikes robbery,” the message states. “Everybody avail yourselves. We must stand together to embark this battle of expensive electricity. The rich people must think about our poor people, the disadvantaged. With the high unemployment rate, how will we survive having to pay the R260 before you can even buy electricity or they deduct it from your coupon? K*k story. We are now tired of talking but nothing ever happens. It is time that Kimberley comes to a standstill. On June 29, Kimberley will come to a standstill. It will be a no-go area, everything will come to a halt. The electricity tariff hike must fall. We are not in Hollywood. Sol Plaatje you better be prepared because there is no more time. You always say jump and we jump. Now it is our turn to say jump and you must ask how high. Kimberley people unite and attend the meeting,” the message states.
It further states that the message must be shared with every household in Kimberley.
Yesterday, an informal council meeting was held to allow the Sol Plaatje chief financial officer, Lydia Mahloko, to explain the new tariff structure to councillors, who themselves are still uncertain how it will work.
Mahloko stressed that the restructuring of the electricity tariff, which allows the charge to be split into a flat rate of R260 a month on one hand and the costs of the units used by the consumer on the other hand, would not bring in additional income for the municipality.
“We took last year’s income from electricity, and increased it by 5.95%.”
However, the introduction of a flat rate is expected to result in massive increases for some users, particularly for those residents who have a low electricity consumption.
According to Mahloko, the 15 000 residents that the municipality hopes to register as indigents will not pay the R260 flat rate.
However, it is estimated that around 4 000 low-income residents, who are not registered as indigents but are still the most vulnerable group, will be the hardest hit by the restructuring.
It was agreed at the meeting that this aspect needed to be looked at by the municipality.
Residents who use around 350kVA a month, will, according to the DA’s Reinette Liebenberg, pay around 9% more and not the expected 5.95%
“The less electricity you use, the greater the percentage increase. The only ones who will benefit from the flat rate will be residents who use 650kVA or more a month.”
She also questioned the flat tariff for small businesses. “According to the budget schedule, they will pay an additional R299 a month. This is also a new tariff and it means that small businesses that use around 1 000kVA a month will face an 18% increase, while those who use around 2 000kVA will pay around 12% more.”
Questions were also raised about how the flat rate would be implemented, particularly for those who use prepaid electricity.
“If someone buys R50 electricity on July 1, he will receive about 42 units, because R8.50 of his money will go towards the flat rate. But then if he buys another R50 electricity again 20 days later, he will have to pay R170 just for the flat rate (R8.50 x 20 days), which he doesn’t have,” one councillor pointed out.
Mahloko was tasked at the meeting to come back with a detailed plan on how electricity and water losses in the city could be curbed.
With the rising unhappiness regarding the restructuring of the electricity tariff, the executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, pointed out that although the budget had been approved, it was not fixed and could be changed if necessary.
“The flat rate is not a new thing,” Matika said at last week’s Sol Plaatje City Council meeting. “It has been presented to council before.”
He added that it was not an issue of high tariffs. “There is a lot of confusion and we, as councillors, will have to have more contact sessions so that we can explain it to our communities. The impression has been created that indigents will have to pay more but, in fact, they will be the ones who will benefit. Those who have the means will have to pay.
“The sustainability of the municipality depends on our ability to collect rates and taxes.”
He added that services, however, had to be up to standard. “This will not come cheap.”
Matika stated that while the local authority had invested in the past four years in upgrading the bulk infrastructure, the roads, parks and community halls had been neglected.
“Now we are in a position to deal with these.”
He stated further that the municipality had a surplus of general labourers. “As we move forward we need to focus on special skills.
“Our expenses currently are more than our income and we need to find a balance.”