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Durban – Municipality of eThekwini attributed problems with non-functioning streetlights and the city’s billing system to cable theft, vandalism and theft as well as overloading call centers due to Covid -19.
Francois Rodgers, head of DA KwaZulu-Natal, and Nicole Graham, head of the party’s eThekwini caucus, held a protest with placards at the headquarters of the electricity department on Friday. They then handed a memorandum to an official.
Rodgers says the department was on the verge of collapse – from a dysfunctional billing system to the call center.
“People have to wait a long time before they can register their requests. Even after registering their requests, they still have to wait for hours due to lack of equipment and human capacity. Our streets have become crime havens due to faulty and non-functional street lighting. Enough is enough. We need a complete overhaul of the department so that we can see a change in eThekwini, ”he said.
Graham told the Post that they decided to hold the protest due to an alleged drop in the responsiveness and capacity of the electric utility over a period of time. She said they had met with city officials and offered solutions.
“We have reported many times of blackouts and street light failures, but we are still not seeing much success. We decided to send our complaints in the form of a memorandum to the electricity office to demand action. This is also addressed to the office of the director general, the mayor and the political leadership of the city. We also believe that this is a political issue … “
She said they hoped there would be changes in the department.
“There are a lot of structural issues that hinder these departments. Like supply chain management and lack of consequence management, which means government officials and contractors, who don’t do their jobs, get away with it… Repairs can’t be done. This shows the lack of response to the concerns of the inhabitants.
“Residents complain about the difficulty in reaching the customer support line, long wait times, a high percentage of dropped calls and also that the call center is not able to respond quickly. . You receive an SMS indicating that your request has been recorded but no information on the nature of the defect. A lot of people have to call back several times to get more information. “
The post called the call center three times between Thursday and Friday. Two calls were answered in about 5 minutes. The third was disconnected after six minutes without a response.
Msawakhe Mayisela, the city’s spokesperson, said they were doing everything to deal with the reported shortcomings with the equipment and human capital at their disposal.
“The problem of street lighting in Durban is mainly attributed to social issues. The city’s electricity service solves the technical problems but you find that our teams only solve the problem so that unknown vehicles come and deliberately destroy the same fires again. We also have a cable theft problem. We urge our residents to report these criminals to law enforcement so they can be dealt with. “
He said call center wait times depended on the number of requests logged and sent for repairs. These times, he said, varied daily.
“… Remember that this is Covid-19 time and that the numbers per shift may vary depending on the number of people who could, for various reasons such as quarantine, be tested positive or be referred to as close contacts by their families and friends. This affects the number of people working, and therefore callers should wait while an available agent takes their call. We ask our residents for patience and understanding. All calls will be taken care of, ”he said.