Council’s excuses don’t wash, says resident

The “council’s excuses and their sub-contractor’s behaviour sucks big time”.

That was the reaction from Marilyn Simons of Strandfontein when the City of Cape Town explained why her meter was replaced without notice and she was left high and dry for 24 hours.

“I would like to know whether the municipality has the right to change your water meter from free flow to restricted, without your consent? I would also like to know if they should inform you when they work on your water meter.

“I woke up on a Monday afternoon after a night shift to find my water turned off, not even a trickle. My neighbour told me that earlier that morning a white van had stopped outside my house and changed my meter. They turned my water supply off to work on the meter and left without turning it back on. I spoke to Alison at the council offices who told me that my old meter was faulty and had to be replaced. She was very helpful and even logged a distress call on my behalf. Although my meter was still on free flow, it caused me much distress. I was furious. A colleague of mine had her meter changed without her consent.

“What happened to common courtesy in this regard? We were home all day… Why couldn’t the technicians or whatever they’re called inform us that they’ll be stopping our water? We then could’ve filled our flasks as well as the dogs’ water bowls. And to leave without turning the water back on or at least check to see if it was on?” an angry Ms Simons wanted to know.

“A crew arrived only the next day, 24 hours later, to restore our water supply. The driver of the van was very nonchalant and, according to him, I had no reason to be angry because they came to turn the water back on.

“I would like to ask the council if this is the way they treat their clients. What is their protocol in this regard? We pay for services rendered, so why are they treating us like they’re doing us a favour? If the crew had informed us, all this panic and strife could’ve been avoided,” she said.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste services, said the meter was changed as part of the City’s meter replacement programme, which is an initiative to maintain its aging infrastructure.

“The sub-contractor who undertook the work said when he was at the property the first time nobody was home; and when no one was at home the second time he decided to change the water meter as it was located on council property.

“It was not switched off. It would appear that when the contractor changed the meter, they did not open the stopcock fully which resulted in no water flowing through. The meter did not switch off as it was set to free flow.

“However, the contractor forgot to open the stopcock and they take full responsibility for the mistake. The sub-contractor will be disciplined for the mistake he made, to prevent it from happening again,” Ms Limberg said.

“When we were informed about the problem, we acted within the response timeframe and attended to the complaint within 48 hours. The contractor followed the works instruction as it states that the meter ‘is ceased’(sic) seized.

“The water meter reader received the same actual reading on August 14 2018 and again on December 10 2018, therefore, the meter was deemed to be faulty,” said Ms Limberg.

Ms Simons disagrees with Ms Limberg’s explanation.

“My husband is a retired ambulance man and is home all day, every day. I was also home coming from a night shift. A family friend was visiting us that morning and the installers told her not to park her car in our driveway as they were busy there. She was under the impression that we knew the installers were just outside in our driveway.

“I know full well that it’s council property but their excuses are putrid, to say the least.

“Secondly, my water was turned off completely, both at the old stopcock as well as on the meter and there was no water from any of the taps inside or outside the house.

“If protocol or common courtesy was followed, none of this would’ve happened.

“Their excuses as well as their workers’ behaviour sucks big time,” Ms Simons said.