Johannesburg to reconsider R200 monthly electricity surcharge

The City of Johannesburg is set to review the recently introduced R200 monthly surcharge on prepaid electricity. The surcharge, which was implemented at the beginning of July, has sparked widespread dissatisfaction among residents. Finance MMC Dada Morero addressed the concerns in a recent interview with Newzroom Afrika, expressing the city’s intent to reevaluate the charge.

Addressing Johannesburg residents’ electricity surcharge concerns

Morero acknowledged the grievances raised by the community, stating, “We have been listening to some of the concerns raised by communities regarding the availability charge amounts. Many feel that the amounts are quite high, and there is a need to relook at the amounts.”

He assured residents that a comprehensive review would be conducted, taking into account various factors, including the city’s financial stability and compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act.

Morero also emphasised that those on the Expanded Social Package (ESP) register would be exempt from the surcharge. “This helps us deal with those who are essentially the poor or people who may not necessarily afford it,” he explained.

He noted that the city would explore ways to balance the financial burden on residents while still securing necessary funds for infrastructure maintenance and development.

Financial pressures and justifications

The R200 surcharge was introduced alongside a 12.7% electricity hike, approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) following City Power’s application.

The hike and surcharge are part of the city’s strategy to address its financial challenges and fund critical investments in new electricity infrastructure, as well as the upkeep of existing systems.

Morero pointed out that this is the first time City Power customers are contributing to such charges, a practice already in place in other metropolitan areas across South Africa.

Looking forward

The decision to implement the surcharge was based on a comprehensive cost-of-supply study, which was submitted to Nersa for approval. Despite the challenges, Morero highlighted that Johannesburg’s electricity rates remain comparatively lower than those of other cities in South Africa. However, the city remains committed to reassessing the surcharge in response to public feedback.

“We are committed, following the council meeting yesterday, to relook at how best we can review and reduce the amounts,” Morero assured.

The city aims to find a balanced solution that addresses both financial needs and residents’ affordability concerns.

As Johannesburg grapples with these financial and infrastructural challenges, the question remains: How can the city balance the need for infrastructure investment with the financial pressures on its residents?

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