Presidential Hotline calls on Joburg

20 March 2012

The City of Johannesburg says it is busy clearing the backlog of complaints over billing issues, and has promised to settle new complaints within 30 days, after residents turned to South Africa’s Presidential Hotline for help on the issue.

The Presidency met Johannesburg officials on Monday after its hotline received 8 000 complaints over billing problems in the city since April last year.

“We came because we wanted to understand how the city is engaging with issues like the billing system – the system which has been an issue raised by residents,” Deputy Performance Monitoring Minister in the Presidency Obed Bapela told reporters after the meeting.

“We know the numbers that were clocked in by our presidential hotline and the premier’s hotline were over 8 000. The city has already begun to engage and resolve almost 5 000 of those particular cases.”

‘To see how the city is dealing with issues’

Bapela said residents had approached the hotline to say they were unable to get satisfactory responses from the city.

“So instead of responding to all of them individually, we felt that let’s come in and engage with the city in a corporate governance model to see where the city is and how they are dealing with issues.”

He said most of the cases reported to the hotline included the finalisation of deceased estates, complaints on amounts to be paid, cut-offs and clearance certificates.

66 000 billing queries by end of June

City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member Geoffrey Makhubo said the city would seek to resolve at least 66 000 billing queries by the end of June.

June was the deadline it had set to attain stabilisation of the revenue system.

“We are confident that we are on track. We still have backlogs of queries that we are dealing with,” Makhubo said.

“Today’s problems should be solved today rather than adding on to the backlogs. So we are focused on the backlogs. New queries will be resolved in 30 days. That is our promise to the residents of Johannesburg.”

The number 66 000 reflected the total number of outstanding billing queries at present.

City to launch customer charter

Makhubo said the city would launch a customer charter at the end of March.

“That customer charter would bind us to certain service levels, certain standards and would articulate the rights and obligations of the city and articulate the rights and obligations of the customer,” he said.

City officials and Bapela had a two-hour meeting on Monday which included a visit to the city’s customer relations centre.

“We are quite satisfied as the presidency with the response given by the city … Some matters are beyond them,” Bapela said.

“Unfortunately we arrived when the system was down … We spoke to a customer who said the usual waiting period is 15 minutes. We call on Joburg residents to raise their problems, but they should also pay for services.”

‘Pay for your services’

Local government and housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi said after the meeting on Monday that the city was properly run.

“There is no reason for the citizens of this city [Johannesburg] to have their stress level raised up … We are happy that the city is run properly. They are able to indeed report and account for what they are doing,” Mmemezi said.

“If you want the services, we must indeed support the municipality, we must pay … The municipality must be supported, so start paying. With the municipality, the groceries and car payment must be the last.”

Bapela said the presidency would also visit other municipalities to see what problems they faced.