Residents petition against tariff hikes

The eThekwini Municipality's R 67.3 billion proposed budget for 2024/2025 has been released for consultation. Graphic: eThekwini Municipality

The eThekwini Municipality's R 67.3 billion proposed budget for 2024/2025 has been released for consultation. Graphic: eThekwini Municipality

Published Mar 26, 2024


Durban citizens have voiced their frustration regarding the eThekwini Municipality’s proposed tariff increases and have signed petitions against them.

In co-operation with ratepayer associations, thousands of signatures have been collected and the associations aim to deliver these to the mayor’s office.

During its council meeting last week, the eThekwini Municipality proposed a 14.9% increase in water and a 14% increase in electricity for the 2024/2025 financial year.

Chairperson of the Glenwood/Bulwer Residents’ Association, Keyuren Maharaj, said they recently sent a notice to residents and encouraged them to sign a petition opposing the City’s proposed tariff increases.

“Our municipality is proposing this tariff increase without providing clear and convincing justification to residents. We have not been presented with comprehensive information on why this increase is necessary, especially when most of us struggle to make ends meet.

“A tariff increase of this magnitude will have far-reaching consequences for our community. It could deter prospective residents from moving here, undermine local businesses, and erode the sense of trust and co-operation between residents and local government officials.

“We urge all residents to join us in opposing this unjustified increase. Together, we can make our voices heard and demand accountability from our municipal leaders.

“Our mother body, the eThekwini Ratepayers and Residents’ Association (ERRA), has started a free online petition for residents who reject the increase and we encourage everyone to sign.”

The petition can be signed at https://chng. it/Dx6nXZ6pjL

“We’ve got elderly residents who cannot drink water from their taps, university students who can’t learn due to electricity outages, and children who have to walk through sewage and garbage to get to school,” Maharaj said.

“The sheer lack of services is appalling and can be seen throughout eThekwini and now, in one of the municipality’s worst times, they want to increase tariffs. There is only one way for this constant disrespect for ratepayers to stop and that’s if everyone, no matter their age, race or gender, comes together and takes a stand – it impacts all of us.”

Maharaj called for fairness, transparency and effective communication between the government and the communities they serve. He said the community’s participation in this petition is crucial. To date, he said they have attained 5 329 signatures from residents all over the city and they will submit a document with all these signatures to the mayor’s office soon.

The City's 2024/25 Draft Budget of R67.3 billion was tabled today at a Full Council meeting by eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda. Public engagements will take place soon. Keep an eye on our platforms for more information. | eThekwini Municipality

Bluff Ratepayers and Residents’ Association vice-chairperson Allison Schoeman said since last Wednesday, they had received 1 790 signatures from across the city. She said their petition wasn’t the same as the one circulated by the ERRA, but this was no big issue as both aim to address the same thing: citizens opposing the increase.

“The various ratepayers associations are scheduling a meeting at this moment to discuss and finalise the approach to the municipality using these submissions,” she said.

“My hope is to mobilise the masses to attend this year’s council meeting with a placard saying ‘NO to tariff hikes’. We won’t disrupt the meeting but will need the media to spotlight the gallery and perhaps interview a few attendees to understand that the line in the sand is being drawn.

“We won’t accept tariff hikes this year. eThekwini must revise the budget and find other ways to generate revenue that does not involve plunging residents into more poverty,” Schoeman said.

Tongaat Ratepayers’ Association secretary Jay Govender said: “It is preposterous that any leadership could even suggest an increase with the dismal services our communities are experiencing.

“We insist any forms of increase be put on ice until a semblance of normalcy returns to our people.

“The non-services of water to the neediest among us, together with the unwarranted back-dated, illicit estimations, is infuriating. We need all leadership to urgently consult with community organisations, and hear the people’s concerns out, before making any unilateral and dictatorial decisions.”

The City has scheduled a meeting for ratepayer associations for next week.

During the Draft Budget Meeting last week, mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said: “We have certainly done a lot to change the lives of the people of eThekwini and this budget demonstrates that we remain committed to continue providing quality services, while growing the economy and creating sustainable jobs.”

EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said the proposed tariff increases have not been approved by the council and a public consultation process is under way.

“The municipality’s proposed R67.3 billion budget for the 2024/25 financial year has been released for consultation which will give ratepayers, business and stakeholders an opportunity to make submissions.”

She urged ratepayers and stakeholders to submit their comments by email or attend public consultations before April 19.

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