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DA in Lephalale opposes 60% water tariff increase to pay historic debt

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is urging Lephalale residents to oppose an anticipated significant increase in water tariffs, as it will further stretch consumer’s budgets already struggling with high fuel and food prices.

DA Caucus Whip, Councillor Sybil Niewoudt says Lephalale Local Municipality is in financial distress and now wants residents to service its debt by raising water rates.

The ANC-led municipality proposed a 60 percent hike in water tariffs during the May 31, 2022 council meeting.

The DA has called on residents to attend public meeting at Mogol Club on June 13, 4pm to oppose proposed huge tariff increase.

According to a public notice, the Municipality Council intends to consider an increase in fees, tariffs, and charges to be applied from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

The municipality claims current water tariffs only cover the cost of purified water and exclude the cost of raw water abstraction from the Mokolo Dam, and that it is required to pay the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) monthly bill.

“The municipality therefore proposes a water supply rate adjustment to pay for purified and raw water costs, our water supply and delivery systems, and to maintain adequate coverage levels for our outstanding debt and credit standing,” the notice states.

According to Niewoudt, DA would reject tariff hike because it will serve a debt that was caused by incompetent and careless officials.

“This massive increase was attributed to historic debt settlement of R133 134 202.83 plus interest of R25 457 950.68 owed to the Department of Water and Sanitation for the abstraction of raw water from the Mokolo Dam,” said Niewoudt.

She said Lephalale Municipality is in debt and wants residents to help pay it off by raising water rates.

Niewoudt said DA strongly opposes municipality’s proposed 60 percent increase in water rates.

“We believe municipality has other options available to it. We can work out a payment plan with DWS, or Treasury can withhold a sum from municipality’s equitable share to pay off debt,” she added.

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