Water and electricity thieves need to brace themselves, as the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality could soon be knocking on their doors.
Desperate to increase its revenue collection rate, the municipality will be investigating the connections at homes where water and electricity are unrealistically low over a consistent period.
This as its revenue collection rate stands at 92%, below its target of 94%.
Mayor Athol Trollip said on Monday an investigation into households that were using too little water or electricity was under way.
Trollip, flanked by mayoral committee member Retief Odendaal and acting chief financial officer Jackson Ngcelwane, was speaking at a media conference at City Hall.
He said the municipality had spent 96% of its Urban Settlements Development Grant in the 2017/2018 financial year.
“We have seen that the collection rate has come off a bit but there are a lot of people in the city who are using free services,” Trollip said.
He said the revenue protection task team had appointed a company to investigate the low users and the committee had recently received a presentation on technology that would pinpoint where the low service users were.
“The company has come up with interesting information about homes that use little or no electricity but they are illuminated, and homes that use little or no water but they are washing and showering every day,” Trollip said.
He said once the investigation had been concluded officials would venture out and start knocking on doors.
“We have got a GIS system where you can push a button and it will show you a high-use household, low-use households, and no-use households.
“Where there are people living in households and there is no electricity use, a red flag shoots up.
“We are going to go on a campaign.
“We are going to knock on a door and say, you have used eight units of electricity this past month, yet there are six people living in this house, how do you do it?”
Trollip said they were expecting some resistance.
“It’s going to cause a lot of unhappiness, not because we are going to prejudice poor people but because poor people already have assistance to the poor, they get 8kl of water, which is more than the national provision of 6kl.
“They have a higher allocation of free electricity than the national average.
“We look after the poor people in this city, but what we are not going to do is allow our people who can afford to pay, to get free water and electricity.”
Trollip said that at a press of a button they would be able to pinpoint the perpetrators.
“This is how we are going to address our revenue shortfall.”
Trollip said the investigation, along with the EOH – the company that was hired to collect overdue debt – and knocking on doors would ensure the metro reaches its target of 94%.
“Nobody in this metro, not one person, can afford to have their neighbour using water without paying for it.
“We are in a crisis situation here,” Trollip said.