South Africa: Gautrain Sandton Station Still Without Water, City to Defend Cutting Supply in Court

18 September 2019

The City of Johannesburg will defend its decision to cut water supply to the Sandton Gautrain station in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The City cut off the water supply to the station on September 7.

This follows a dispute with Cedar Park Properties 39 Pty Ltd (Cedar Park), a company linked to Regiments Capital, the owner of the property on which the station is situated.

According to the City, records show that Cedar Park has not been paying for municipal rates and services since the registration of the property in its name in 2013.

"The landlord has in effect been receiving free services for the past six years," Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said on Wednesday.

"Earlier this month, the City was left with no option but to cut off water supply at the station. This followed extensive efforts to get the landlord to pay its R8m debt owed to the City for water, refuse, sewerage and property rates."

Cedar Park has decided to approach the High Court on an urgent basis, seeking an interdict directing the City and Joburg Water to reconnect their water supply. The City said it looked forward to defending this application in an open court of law.

Gautrain has asked the City to urgently restore water supply to its Sandton station.

"Whilst we have subsequently implemented temporary measures, such as portable ablution facilities, to ensure that passengers and employees are not adversely affected, we do have health and hygiene concerns, given that it is [a] public transport system with more than 20 000 people passing through the station every day and our standard ablution facilities at the station are not operational," the company said in a statement.

"We are unsure as to why the City has opted to turn off the water supply, inconveniencing Gautrain customers on a dispute between the City and Cedar Park Properties, but we call on the City of Johannesburg to restore the water supply to the station and to resolve the dispute that they have with Cedar Park Properties via the appropriate legal channels."

But the City maintains its stance, saying that it first issued a pre-termination notice to Cedar Park on August 3, 2018, for outstanding water, refuse, sewerage and property rates.

"However, only one payment of R670 000 was forthcoming on an outstanding debt of R3.3m at the time. In addition, Cedar Park made no effort to enter into a payment arrangement with the City for the outstanding debt. The City again issued Cedar Park with a pre-termination notice on July 30, 2019. However, no payment followed which ultimately resulted in the City cutting the water supply to the property," Mashaba said.

"It is absurd and frankly unethical for a private company to expect government to incur costs while providing it with free services. This, while our residents are expected to fork out their hard-earned money on a monthly basis.

"This type of activity may have been condoned under previous administrations in the City, but it will not be allowed under my watch. With a growing debtor's book, the City simply cannot afford to have its high consuming corporate customers fall behind on payments of municipal accounts.

"Ultimately, failure to pay municipal debts negatively impacts service delivery which is budgeted for on revenue generation forecasts. More of these cut-offs can be expected as efforts to collect outstanding debt are intensified through the City's Operation Buya Mthetho ," Mashaba said.

Source: News24

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