NEWS/ 12 November 2015 at 5:41pm
By: Michael Nkalane
Cape Town – To encourage users to save water, the Cape Town City Council has set up a Facebook page to enable consumers to log complaints.
But it hasn’t worked out quite the way the City might have envisaged – numerous people are accusing it of taking too long to respond to messages, saying their problems have been ignored for weeks at a time. But the City says it acts on complaints as quickly as it can.
Fred Fraser wrote about a park in Clarendon Street, on the corner of Piet Retief Square in Ysterplaat, where he says the park keeper switches on the sprinklers at 8am and lets them run until just after midday, “from Monday to Friday”.
“The ground is water-logged. Please send someone to speak to the park keeper about saving water. If he closes the park 15 minutes before closing time and puts the sprinklers on for 15 minutes, it will keep the lawn wet throughout the evening and the grass will grow better.”
He asks why someone from the water department cannot speak to the park keeper to explain about saving water.
Acting mayoral committee member for utility services Xanthea Limberg replied that the City attended to all complaints as soon as resources allowed it to do so.
“All but a tiny minority of service requests are resolved within our target period. It is grossly unfair to say that neither the call centre nor social media channels are helpful.”
But user Michelle Adams disputed her explanation. She wrote that she had reported leaking pipes in Ocean View’s Robin Circle three weeks ago.
And Craig Crown said he had been complaining about leaking valves in Aiken Road, Norfolk Park, “for weeks”.
“The Water department was notified on numerous occasions. The pipes burst every day.”
City spokesperson Priya Reddy admitted that in some cases there was not enough manpower to attend to a leaky valve or a faulty water meter immediately. “We operate a massive network over 10 000km long and we service over 3 million people.
“With a network of this size, it is unrealistic to expect us to operate with 100% integrity all the time. Despite this, the City boasts, by some distance, the lowest water losses compared with the other seven metros in South Africa.”
Complaints are referred to a relevant depot and the customer is provided with a phone number to which he can follow up, said Reddy.
Limberg said the City was considering implementing low-level water restrictions.
“It is being formalised through the council procedures and in line with the relevant policies. Final authorisation will be given at the next council meeting.”
She said said this would be part of normal water demand management and would be implemented as a precautionary measure to avoid the need for far more rigorous restrictions next summer, if there is another dry winter.
Asked how laying a complaint on its Facebook page works, Limberg said staff direct the complaint to the relevant line department manager.”