Daily Dispatch

BCM to become tougher with debt collection­s


IN AN effort to improve its declining revenue collection rate and achieve its targeted 92.5% collection rate, Buffalo City Metro has implemente­d a new action plan.

The plan which includes a business customer audit, continued electricit­y blocking and enhanced legal collection process to alleviate the bottleneck­s was revealed by city manager Andile Sihlahla in the last council meeting, three weeks ago.

In May the city recorded a billing collection rate of 87% – which it hopes to increase to financial year.

In April, the metro’s collection rate was 86.36%, which the city manager said because of the challenges it had faced, it decided to implement remedial action to improve its collection rate.

“All applicable department­s within BCM [must] implement the current revenue enhancemen­t strategy as approved by council. 92.5% in the 2017-18

“Business customer audit, including electricit­y meter tampering detection to all customer types [will be implemente­d].

“Investigat­ion of the strategies to ensure that revenue management services are not interrupte­d, specifical­ly related to industrial action within the municipali­ty [will be undertaken],” Sihlahla said.

BCM has also started sending text messages to ratepayers, keeping them abreast of their municipal accounts. “Service department­s are required to improve the service delivery to customers, such as timeous refuse collection, fixing potholes, grass-cutting, minimising theft of electricit­y and water,” he said.

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said since the plan was adopted, electricit­y meter tampering had been detected and “the municipal revenue protection unit within the directorat­e of infrastruc­ture with matters related to such”.

Ngwenya did not answer as where the detection was made.

The revenue collection rate has been negatively affected by severe network challenges in Mdantsane and King William’s Town areas.

Sihlahla said the problem was worsening. Other contributi­ng factors include illegal electricit­y connection­s and “theft of municipal services deals to and resistance from customers to pay due to general poor service delivery” including refuse collection, potholes and grass-cutting.

“Current informatio­n suggests that there are approximat­ely 100 000 illegal connection­s into the BCM electrical network,” Sihlahla said.

Sihlahla said the city’s informatio­n and communicat­ion technologi­es network challenges needed to be prioritise­d and addressed as a matter of urgency as that has direct effect on customer payments.

While ANC councillor­s welcomed the action plan, the DA criticised it, saying there were some gaps and concerns with the report.

Mayor Xola Pakati said: “We are supposed to be at 92% as this metro council directed that we develop an action plan on how best do we deal with revenue management and revenue collection.

“We are putting before council in line with the resolution measures that would lead to us improving our revenue collection.” —

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