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 92.5% in the 2017-18 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.

“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 deals with matters related to such”.

Ngwenya did not answer as to 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 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 100000 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.” — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

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