Residents are not using the City of Cape Town’s fault reporting system, known as the C3 system, adding to the administrative burden of councillors who are expected to report faults and follow up on progress.
In his chairman’s report at the monthly De Grendel Sub-council meeting on Thursday April 21, councillor Taki Amira said residents reported service delivery issues to councillors, instead of the City’s call centre.
“Councillors and sub-council offices are receiving a large number of complaints on a daily basis which detract them from addressing other issues,” he said.
Mr Amira said that once a complaint was logged, it went to the relevant department, residents received a reference number and could “chase it up directly”. But retiring Ward 1 councillor Sakkie Pretorius (Glenwood, Tygerdal, Monte Vista, Plattekloof Glen, De Duin, Panorama, Kaapzicht, Sonnenda, Welgelegen and Kleinbosch, Plattekloof) warned that residents were used to calling on their councillors when they had a problem, and directing them to the call centre could backfire.
“When we took over government of the City 10 years ago, we created the impression that the councillor must deal with complaints. And we received quite a lot,” he said. He said to “change it overnight” would create a dilemma.
“We’re facing an election in August, and I’m afraid we’re going to make more people angry than make them happy,” he said. Mr Pretorius said his ward was home to many elderly residents who might find the fault-reporting system daunting.
“I don’t want to be negative about the new technology, but to change it overnight is very difficult,” he said.
Mr Amira said it was not a new way of doing things, but a reminder that the C3 system was available and should be used.
Bellville councillor Brendan van der Merwe (Ward 3) said there was a “serious problem” with the call centre.
He questioned whether it had been “politicised” and whether staff deliberately failed to answer calls.
“It’s important that we pursue the efficiency of the call centre,” he said, citing an incident where he had called the call centre and held on for 15 minutes, before dropping the call.
However, a day later, when Northern News called Mr Van der Merwe, he said the call centre was “inundated”, especially after hours when residents returned home from work.
“Sometimes people can’t get through to the call centre, and then they want to speak to someone to help them,” he said.
* Since 2009, the City of Cape Town has launched a number of FreeCall lines (FCLs) in municipal buildings, libraries, clinics and community facilities, which residents can use to call for help (“Parow gets connected to the City,” Northern News, March 16).
Earlier this year, the City said of the almost one million calls fielded by the call centre, 55 457 were received from the FCLs between January and November 2015 – the highest number of calls received since 2012.
“This is an important tool for our residents, as it empowers them to contact the City directly at no cost, without having to pass all individual requests through their ward councillor,” said Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral committe member for corporate services and compliance.
* Residents can SMS complaints to 31373 or 31220 or contact the call centre 0860 10 30 89 or email contactUS@capetown.gov.za