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​AFTER months of battling with the City of Johannesburg to sort out problems relating to his corporate municipal accounts, Mapha Nyakama, a manager at a company doing business in the city, had something to smile about on 20 June.

He was one of the 900 customers invited by the City’s revenue and customer management department to attend its Key and Corporate Accounts Open Day at Thuso House in Braamfontein.

The department undertook to address queries brought forward by its corporate clients around the city. The building was teeming with activity as the customers waited patiently to resolve queries related to their municipal accounts.

On hand to assist the customers with their queries were officials designated to services such as rates and taxes; valuations; geo-informatics and land information systems as well as representatives from City Power and Johannesburg Water.  

“The nightmare is almost over. All my key accounts have been resolved,” said Nyakama, beaming with happiness.

“I am quite happy that they are going to send someone to check faulty meters as well.”

Tariffs charges
Nyakama, an administrative manager at Remote Metering Solutions, spoke of the problems encountered with the City in an attempt to sort out the incorrect tariffs charges sent to his company.

Queries Queries are attended to immediately“I was not happy with the high bills I was getting from the City, but the issue has since been resolved.”

Meter readers who were also part of the event were despatched to investigate faulty meters as they were being reported by the customers.

Stan Yankelson, a utilities manager at Afcho Holdings, a property development company, was pleasantly surprised by the department’s efficiency in handling his case, and thanked the municipal officials for their intervention.

“The response was very professional and I am confident that they will attend to my problems immediately,” he said. “I handed in a memorandum of grievances, which was well received and will assist them in dealing with the queries.”

Logging queries
However, he pointed out that the current system of logging queries at the customer centre can be improved.

“Some of the queries are complicated and the likelihood of having them sorted out is limited,” he said. 

Another representative of a property company, Daphnie Selolo , from Realty Management Services, said she was sceptical about the exercise in the beginning,  but praised the department for the initiative.

Stan YenkelsonStan Yenkelson: Pleasantly surprised at effiicient service“I thank the City for coming up with such a wonderful idea. It has saved us from unnecessary stress,” she said. “I am very impressed, they should do this more often.” 

Some of the issues raised by the customers included grossly –inflated estimates, meters not being read on a regular basis and bills being sent to the wrong businesses.

Stanley Maphologela, spokesperson of the department, said the majority of the queries had been attended to.

“Our hope is to firstly resolve their queries, and secondly foster a direct relationship with them,” he said.

He added that the department might reconsider extending the duration of the operation if the exercise is successful.

“We value all our customers, and businesses operating in Johannesburg are a vital segment for revenue collection,” he said.

“The payments we receive from them will go a long way in ensuring that the city is able to deliver the services required by the all its residents.”

The open day is an effort by the City to resolve its billing crisis, which has received plenty of negative reporting in the media.  Some residents across Johannesburg have been receiving inflated water and electricity bills, following the introduction of a new billing system by the City.

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