City of Johannesburg’s R357-million billing crisis game plan

Finance MMC Dr Rabelani Dagada gives his first budget speech in the City's new council chamber.

The City of Johannesburg’s now infamous billing crisis will cost R357 million to reimplement its software system and the establishment of more specialised units within the revenue department in the next financial year.

This was revealed during the annual budget speech on 23 May by MMC for Finance, Dr Rabelani Dagada, who said the current SAP system, software that runs all the City’s business processes, will need to be reimplemented.

“The initial implementation of this platform was poorly managed within the City,” Dagada said.

The system is crucial for the City to be able to manage the crisis. Dagada believes the amalgamation of 16 municipal councils into the current metropolitan municipality attributed to the crisis.

When customer data was being centralised so that the City had one profile of a customer instead of different profiles across departments and entities, the information was not correlated.

Read: Will the billing ‘crisis’ really end?

To adddress billing queries, a back office unit within the revenue department was established on 3 April which dealt with 78 479 queries of which 29 491 were between 90 and 365 days old. As of 19 May, the queries have been reduced to 12 600.

However, problems soon surfaced again and on 24 May it was announced that the City’s customer statement delivery system experienced a major error implicating half a million April accounts. Mayor Herman Mashaba suspected the system was tampered with and instructed authorities to investigate.

Other interventions to solve the crisis were also announced:

  • A technical support services unit will be established to complete billing, accurate and clear invoicing, an effective payment process, credit management, improved customer relationship management and timeous issue resolution
  • A dedicated revenue nerve centre will monitor the performance of the revenue value chain, detecting revenue losses and escalating identified issues to the technical team
  • The meter reading function will be integrated into the revenue shared services centre with the intention of reaching a 95 per cent actual monthly readings target by March 2018
  • Water and electricity bylaws will be reviewed so to reduce the period for which the City is allowed to estimate readings.

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Chantelle Fourie

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