The Buffalo City Metro will now operate on Saturdays in order to deal with outstanding billing queries. Council last week extended a one-month waiver period to consumers lifting all suspensions of accounts.

The City is calling on all consumers to make use of these developments and visit our Regional Main Centers (EL CBD Munifin, Mdantsane City Mall, KWT Civic Centers) and selected Rent Offices in order to address billing related queries.

Consumers that have disputes and queries relating to their Municipal accounts are encouraged to visit the Municipal offices.

Unregistered indigent consumers are requested to come forward and submit their indigent application forms to the nearest municipal rent office so that they can benefit to the indigent subsidy offered. Failure to do so will lead to an account being treated as normal.

Consumers with outstanding debt are also encouraged to pay their accounts as the Municipality will be implementing full credit control policy after the waiver in March 2021.

A waiver was provided to residents at the height of strict Covid-19 lockdown levels and this has led to many consumers stopping payments completely.

The Municipality suspended its standard credit control policies between June 2020 and February 2021 and consumers in arrears were not disconnected to services nor blocked.
The non-payment of services by the households during that waiver period has led to the Metro’s revenue collection rate dropping from the projected 86 % to 56 %.

Saturdays have now been added to the rollout program that will start from 06 February to 06 March 2021 between 08h30 and 13h30 for customer queries to be serviced.

During this time, the Metro has lifted suspensions and will utilize only partial block (60/40) on the prepayment system to recover outstanding debt to allow customers added time to make the necessary arrangements of bringing their accounts up to date.

Facts about Billing 

BCM is sending out about 165 000 municipal accounts monthly. The percentage of registered billing queries form customers is about 3%. 

A percentage breakdown of registered billing queries per region as at January 2021 reflects that the majority of enquiries are water related, 77 %.

One of the contributing factors to this is the misconduct by some of the meter readers. Consequences management to address the misconduct was undertaken and it has recently been concluded. 

Further, the following interventions were also undertaken: 

* The roll-out of smart meters and as at December 2020, 18 440 electricity smart meters and 46 724 water smart meters have been installed.
* Appointment of EPWP participants to assist in the meter reading function on a contractual basis. 

The City also implemented stage 3 water Punitive Tariff due to drought, and this has also led to an increase in the number of queries.

Facts about indigent registration 

The City is subsidizing over 50 000 indigent consumers with free services that include water and electricity to the value of R667,228,711.

Subsidized households are those that have a total income equal to or less than R3,600 per month, and whose account holder is staying in the house and not owning more than one fixed property.

The benefits include getting 6 free kl of water, 50 free kWh of electricity and up to R572,14 discount on other municipal services.
The three (3) year cycle of registered indigent consumers came to an end last June. The indigent renewal process had been negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic. 
To mitigate this, Council took a decision to extend the indigent status of pensioners and disabled consumers for another year to allow them enough time to re-register for the new year cycle. 
Indigent registrations form boxes are being rolled out for indigent consumers to submit their application forms at rent offices through the boxes to reduce human contact. 
EPWP participants have been engaged to assist with expediting the indigent registration program. 
Once a form is received with all the required documents the account of that applicant is concluded, and if approved it will continue to be protected from the full credit control policy. 
Avoid long queue

The Municipality has been experiencing influx of customers in the cash offices to make payment arrangements, query accounts and make indigent registration applications. 

It has been observed that most customers leave the nearest municipal rent/cash offices where these services are also offered and go to the CBD offices. 

As means of avoiding long queues, the Metro encourages consumers to use the following payment options to settle their accounts: 
•    The electronic fund transfer via your banking provider
•    EasyPay at most chain store till points and BCMM electricity vendors.
•    Consumers can buy electricity from BCMM credible electricity vendors with 1 414 vendors available in all 50 wards.


Consumers can also contact the BCM Call Centre on 0861113017.