Almost a year later, Covid-19 continues to bleed Durban dry

08 February 2021 - 14:19
By nivashni nair AND Nivashni Nair
The pandemic has seen municipal collection rates drop to an all-time low in Durban. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/schnepfclaudia The pandemic has seen municipal collection rates drop to an all-time low in Durban. Stock photo.

The eThekwini municipality has only 27 days of cash in hand.

The city is now offering incentives such as writing off all interest on debt and allowing customers to pay over 24 months without interest.

eThekwini municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the main reason for the drop in cash on hand was due to the decrease in collection rates from March to June last year, when the city saw collections drop to an all-time low.

“Notwithstanding several incentives the city has put up to ameliorate the impact on business and residents, we have only been able to achieve a collection rate of 95%. To recover from the low cash on hand, we need collection rates for a sustained period of above 100%,” he said.

“The city had several incentives to address this. We also have the ongoing Covid-19 debt relief programme, which concludes on June 30.

“However, the city’s collection rates had been good, at 95%, considering the impact of Covid-19 on the livelihoods of residents.”

DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham said the municipality had failed to change its spending habits when it began to feel the Covid-19 cash crunch.

“Covid-19 did impact on the financials as people were not working for a long period of time or their businesses were not working, but the issue is that we know the income the city is receiving is less and we have done nothing regarding our big parastatals.

“We still are blowing the budget on over-expenditure items that are of no actual service delivery impact, which are things like metro police and security, all of which in my opinion have political motivations.

“We are losing money on water and electricity, but what is the plan? This has been our consistent question.”