Take the pain out of municipal payments

Len Handler, Constantia

I’ve had to go to the South Peninsula municipal offices a few times of late, and during the latter part of last year I had a look at the City offices in Fish Hoek and Pinelands (and my son went to the Civic Centre to pay a renewal fee for a car licence).

At each, the queues are very long and the waiting periods often are as long as three to four hours – and this for a simple payment for car licence renewal.

The other day I went across to the Alphen municipal offices (not cash receiving stations) and asked what steps I could take next month to renew my car’s licence by doing it online.

The response interested me because I was told that only half the staff complement are at work on any one day because the other half are at home waiting to replace the working group should one of them fall ill.

I immediately suggested that the adjacent Alphen Hall and other similar municipal venues be used as cash receiving offices

I was told, “But they don’t have computers and safes to store payments.”

Well, in my opinion, those shortcomings may readily be resolved by buying PCs and using armoured cash transport trucks to remove all day’s cash payments before the close of business every day

Get the city to work for its ratepayers and law abiding citizenry.

The City’s mayoral committee member for finance, Ian Neilson, responds: The customer’s e-services account may be used to renew his motor vehicle licence disc as well as to receive his municipal account.

Regarding very long queues at payment offices, we remind customers that the high volume of transactions and long queues at offices is a country-wide phenomenon caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and national regulations. The number of people in queues has reduced over the past months. However, queues still appear to be long, due to the need to practice social distancing.

City officials have been processing double the number of normal transactions per month over the past few months in an effort to work through the Covid-19 backlogs. It is important to note that the City also have not received additional equipment from the National Government to enable it to work faster through the National Traffic Information Services (Natis). The City, as an agent of the national government, receives allocated Natis-terminals. The City has been putting pressure on the national authorities to assist on the one hand, while on the other doing everything in our power to reduce the impact on customers.

The City also gives preference to the elderly, infirm residents and pregnant women among others. Elderly and disabled customers are please requested to move to the front of the queue so that they can be assisted.

It is not entirely correct that half the staff complement are at work on any one day because the other half are at home waiting to replace the working group should one of them fall ill.

There are shift teams to ensure that if one team has a Covid-19 positive case, another team can take over. The team not in front office does the online applications. Note, Natis services must be done on specialised equipment and programmes issued by the national authorities. It is not normal computers that are used for the Natis.

And regarding use of the adjacent Alphen Hall and other similar municipal venues as cash receiving offices, the key constraint to expanding access is the availability of Natis computers and the technicians available to shift them to new locations, both of which are under the control of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). The City has facilities available to expand to, but cannot move on these because we are waiting for the RTMC.