City scraps recycling fee and plans to repay ratepayers

Msunduzi is terminating the controversial recycling fee which had ratepayers questioning its legality since no such service has been offered.

This was revealed by the acting municipal manager Neli Ngcobo during the financial services portfolio committee meeting on Wednesday.

“It’s not proper and it’s not fair to charge people for something that we are not doing,” she said.

Ngcobo was responding to questions by DA councillor Ross Strachan, who said Msunduzi had not conducted recycling in the past financial year and there seemed to be no plan to start doing so as there were no agreements signed with the contractors.

“How are we going to rectify this? How are we going to basically pay back the money to the residents because at the end of the day it is criminal?”

Ngcobo said on Tuesday she issued an instruction to the waste management department to put together a report on the immediate termination of the tariff. “The reimbursement plan for now is to credit the ratepayers’ accounts with the same amount. We just need to get the approval from council then we can begin the process but the decision has been taken,” she said.

The monthly recycling tariff of R9,78 was approved by council for implementation in July 2017 but it only started reflecting on utility bills in March this year. It is separate charge from the domestic refuse tariff.

At the time, Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha told The Witness that fee was going to be ring-fenced for programmes geared towards the minimisation and diversion of solid waste to extend the lifespan of the landfill site. She said a portion of the funds was for establishing a climate change or waste minimisation and diversion office staffed by suitably qualified personnel.

On Wednesday Ngcobo said the termination report will be going to the strategic management committee next week.

“The reason for the termination is that we have realised that we cannot charge people for a service that we are not rendering. The problem is that we did not go on a public participation before the tariff was introduced,” she said.

She said there are still plans to reintroduce recycling programmes around the city in the future, but the municipality needs to engage the public on the tariff first.