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Relief as city makes U-turn on extra electricity fee for Joburg

The City of Johannesburg has announced that it has suspended the implementation of a fixed surcharge on prepaid electricity.
The City of Johannesburg has announced that it has suspended the implementation of a fixed surcharge on prepaid electricity.
Image: 123RF/Choneschones

Johannesburg residents and businesses will not be paying a recently adopted fixed surcharge for prepaid electricity.

The surcharge of R200 a month for prepaid residential customers and R402 a month for business prepaid customers was approved by council as part of the annual tariff increases, and was due to be implemented on July 1.

"The approved surcharge aimed to better align pre-paid tariffs to conventional tariffs and was due to be implemented on July 1 2019. However, this has been suspended pending further engagement with all relevant stakeholders," the city said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mayoral committee member for finance Funzela Ngobeni said consumers were already burdened by increasing interest rates, pressure on household disposable income and a "sluggish" economy.

"We heard the voices of the customers through submissions made during the public meetings. While we consider the tariffs to be cost-reflective, we cannot ignore the calls for relief by our residents. Following significant consultation, we have addressed the issues through increased internal efficiencies and passed this benefit on to our consumers," said Ngobeni.

Official tariff increases for the city, which came into effect on July 1, include 5.5% on property rates, 13.7% for electricity, 7% for refuse removal and 9.9 % for water.

Ngobeni said the city was cognisant of tough economic circumstances and "fully aware" that many residents struggled to keep up with their municipal rates and services accounts.

"In an effort to provide relief to the most vulnerable of our residents, the city offers a basket of rebates for rates and services under its Expanded Social Package programme.

"Over and above this, the city will be implementing a debt rehabilitation programme. The broad concept hinges on an application process that will allow for strained household owners to apply for municipal debt rehabilitation," the city said.

Customers who qualify will receive immediate relief, with 50% of the debt being written off.

"If the customer complies with all the requirements of the programme, which includes keeping their current accounts up to date and allowing for regular inspection of metered services, then the remaining outstanding debt will be written off over a three-year period."

"The debt rehabilitation application process is set to start in September," said the city.

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