Billing could improve, if new project is well managed

City of Johannesburg’s ratepayers can, from 1 February next year within each region, choose which day of the month they would prefer to pay their municipal accounts, possibly leading to improved billing accuracy.
The City’s Finance Department spokesperson, Kgamanyane Maphologela, said the billing regionalisation project will see improved billing accuracy, reduced estimate billings and audit queries, limiting collection dates and informed reporting per region.
“We want to work faster and efficiently by improving customers’ experience. The current billing schedule is open all working days of the month, consisting of 21 portions. This strains the physical meter reading that impacts on billing accuracy. Now we want to reduce the number of portions and rather focus on each region and improve the quality of meter reading,” he said.
Sociologist, Dr Liela Groenewald, however, said it is difficult to predict whether regionalisation will lead to better service to residents. “If regional offices have backup electricity, excellent IT support so that computer systems are always online, qualified and well-trained staff with sufficient insight and authority to solve billing problems, effective checks on possible corruption, and if they are run well, then service can certainly improve,” she said.
Groenewald explained that municipal offices could become more accessible because of the project. But whether they will be more effective will all depend on how well the project is managed and whether internal communication channels are effective, she said.
The City’s MMC for Finance, Dr Rabelani Dagada said that estimations are the root of the billing issues in the City. The bylaws that allow for three- or six-month estimations based on one reading according to Dagada, is flawed and does not allow for seasonal or other considerations.
The MMC set out a list of objectives soon after he was appointed, and improving revenue management and the billing process was at the top of the list.
The first phase of the project will start in region A, B, C and E. Region D, F and G will be launched in May next year.
If you want to choose your payment date, call 0860 562 874 or send an email to duedates@joburg.org.za.

  AUTHOR
Chantelle Fourie
Metro Reporter

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