Residents of the Mbombela Local Municipality (Barberton, Hazyview, Nelspruit, White River) owe the Municipality more than R80 million for water consumption.
The Municipality has confirmed this amount to the FF Plus.
The amount reportedly includes outstanding accounts for 30, 60 and 90 days, but according to the FF Plus's information, some residents have not paid for water since 2012.
Many of the outstanding accounts are due to disputes relating to water consumption between residents and the Municipality, inaccurate billing, illegal water connections and a culture of non-payment.
At present, 70% of the Municipality's water revenue is collected from just 30% of its residents, mainly from Hazyview, White River, Nelspruit and Barberton.
The Mayor, Ms Sibongile Makushe, undertook during a council meeting on 29 April to implement water consumption audits, which will evaluate physical meter readings, monthly billing for water consumption and water theft.
Although the Municipality offers a 1% discount for timely payments, attention must urgently be paid to settling disputes and strict action must be taken against non-payers.
The FF Plus will continue to put pressure on the Municipality to improve its collection rate.
It is unacceptable that a handful of loyal payers must subsidise the large number of non-payers.
The outstanding R80 million is essential for municipal service delivery and has a detrimental impact on the maintenance of water infrastructure.