R1.2bn down the drain in meter fiasco

14 May 2015 - 02:07 By Sipho Masombuka and Neo Goba

Months after blowing R65-million on the botched Dinokeng Festival, it has emerged that Tshwane metro will waste about R1.242-billion of taxpayers' money in paying penalties for cancelling a smart prepaid electricity meter contract. The municipality has already paid R830.2-million at a daily rate of R4.6-million to Peu Capital Partners.This brings the total the company will pocket from the botched contract to about R2.1-billion.The DA yesterday revealed that the metro negotiated an exit package after realising that the contract could not survive its financial crisis.The DA's Lex Middleberg said the amount the company would pocket meant each of the 12900 installed meters had cost R163000.He said, to make matters worse, the meters were not compliant with the SA Bureau of Standards' requirements because they were not fitted with the client-interface unit that would enable the user to monitor consumption."This means the meters would have to be replaced, which meant the entire roll-out had to start over again," he said.Middleberg said this was another reason for the termination of the contract. He said that, instead of targeting delinquent payers' accounts and increasing payments to the metro, Peu targeted consumers with 100% payment records to maximise its own profit margins."... the 12 900 meters now account for 50% of all electricity sold by the city ... the city was paying R4.6-million a day for metering and vending."This makes [Peu] the most expensive meter-reading company in the world," Middleberg said.Tshwane said it terminated the contract on Tuesday but Middleberg claimed the municipality had been negotiating an exit since early March. On March 27 Peu presented the municipality with four contract exit options.Middleberg said the metro chose to continue paying Peu the service fee of 19.5c for every R1 collected for up to two months after the signing of the termination agreement.DA caucus leader Gert Pretorius said that even though the deal had been terminated "all the money wasted is to the detriment of service delivery, especially in underdeveloped areas".The DA has called for mayor Kgosientsho Ramokgop and municipal manager Jason Ngobeni to resign, the recovery of the money already paid, the removal of all the installed meters and for the process to start afresh.The metro did not respond to queries...

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