Current and former councilors of the iLembe District Municipality dispute the way sewage tariffs are charged.
In the four constituent municipalities that make up iLembe district (KwaDukuza, Ndwedwe, Mandeni and Maphumulo), sewer charges are based on property assessment rates rather than usage.
This excludes the concession area of Siza Water, in which the volumetric system is used.
African National Congress Councilor ‘Babu’ Sing and ActionSA incumbent Councilor Michelle Sewraj believe this is unfair to consumers.
“How can it be fair that an owner of an unoccupied house of R2 million has to pay more for his sewer tariff, than a situation where 10 people could live in a house that is worth R500,000? Surely he should be billed volumetrically,” Singh said.
Allegations have also been made that this policy was adopted without the support of relevant legislation.
“The pricing policy is fraudulent. ActionSA is not aware of any legislation supporting the system adopted by the municipality,” Sewraj said.
“The value of a property has nothing to do with sewers. We challenge the municipality to produce such legislation if it exists,” she said.
In response, iLembe City Manager Geoffrey Kumalo confirmed that valuation was the method used, as it has been since 2017/18.
He also said the municipality had the infrastructure in place to bill volumetrically, but was tracking council adoption.
“The Council has adopted this tariff policy and the tariff charges. Administrative regulations have been published in the Official Gazette to give effect to the policy.
“Please note that infrastructure cost must be maintained at all times whether the property is vacant or occupied,” he said.
He also said that during the public participation process during the last budget approval, only one comment was received on the issue of sewer rates, which was addressed.
Sewraj said she thinks it sets a bad precedent, especially if iLembe takes over the administration of the concession area from Siza Water in 2029 when the concession ends.
“Residents of the greater Ballito area who live in high value homes could be in shock. This assumes that the property assessment roll is done correctly in the first place,” Sewraj said.
If you wish to object to the way rates are charged, you will need to write to the municipality during the budgeting process.
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