A Diep River woman who endured 11 days with intermittent water supply says the City needs to review its fault-reporting procedure.
Teresa Esplin, who shares her home with her partner, Willem Labuschagne, and their two Rottweilers, first logged her faulty smart water meter on the City’s website at 3pm on Friday September 29. It would take until the afternoon of Tuesday October 10 for the City to fix it and restore a full water supply to the home.
According to Ms Esplin, this is the third faulty smart water meter that has needed replacing in the past two to three years, and the last time she logged a fault, she was without water for 72 hours.
When she followed up with the City on Monday October 2, she was told the complaint was still within the acceptable turnaround time of two working days.
“In frustration, at 8.24am, I mailed the City’s accounts department; the reconnections department; the general water department; my ward councillor, Eddie Andrews, and the mayor’s office,” Ms Esplin said.
Later, the City’s water department called to say a replacement meter had been requested, and a text message on Tuesday October 3 confirmed that.
Meanwhile, the water supply to Ms Esplin’s home was being cut off daily from before 5pm until after 8am. She was going to work late as she had to wait for the water to come back on to fill bottles for drinking water and buckets to flush the toilet.
“On Thursday October 5, I was told that the City’s plumbers had been out on Monday October 2 in the evening, but they couldn’t assist as it was a smart meter. We were home all evening – no-one came. They know what sort of device it is because I told them. I was told the problem was now the fault of the subcontractor who is supposed to sort out the meter.
“The guys who eventually came to fix it said it was the first that they had heard about it. There is an issue with the City’s reporting process. They also could’ve cared a little bit more. I was mailing all those people. It was only after I sent a follow-up mail on the sixth day that they asked someone to follow up.”
Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien said the turnaround time for service requests was two working days, but contractors would still work over weekends and public holidays to attend to requests that fell on a Friday.
“The City is revising the customer charter and is considering reviewing these response times,” he added.
Work by contractors was “sample-checked” regularly and all work had to be “digitally captured for internal review”, he said.
The City’s corporate contact centres escalated service requests to the respective line management and senior management through automatic SMSes at predefined times, and if that channel failed, councillors could email firstname.lastname@example.org, which was monitored daily by staff until 7pm, he said.
Ms Esplin said she would have liked to have seen her councillor get involved sooner.
Mr Andrews said Ms Esplin’s service request had gone to the correct department, but that department had still been attending to damage caused by the heavy downpour on Monday September 25.
“It unfortunately took a lot longer than anticipated.”
He encouraged residents to continue logging service requests on the City’s website and alert the ward councillor’s office if they were not addressed within two working days.