Sunday, April 3, 2011

Water bylaw rip-off & Christina's plumber's crack

Dear South African property owners,
          You are now going to be hit with another open ended penalty if you want to sell. The Cape Town City Council has set the ball rolling but it won’t be long before it’s all over the country.
          Cape Town’s new bylaw makes it compulsory for anybody selling a property to get a compliance certificate issued by a registered plumber before transfer can take place.
          For years now we have had to have something similar for the electrical side. And if my experience is anything to go by the water bylaw will be just as dubious.
         And Christina Aguilera's plumbing crack was not only a good plug for her but it summed up my views completely.
          When we sold our house in Johannesburg we had to pay the first registered electrician R500 up front to have the system tested. He found so many things wrong that it was a miracle that my wife and I, as well as the numerous previous owners of the 10 year old property, had been able to live there without the house exploding into flames on the day it was built.
        It would cost us another R4 500 we were told before he would hand over the certificate. Another registered electrician did the job, complete with certificate for R1 500. So the first one got away with R500 just for visiting the house.
          When we bought our Cape Town home it came with an electrical certificate from another so called registered electrician. Only there were more plugs in the house than the number he was said to have inspected according to his certificate. That was its most obvious defect.
          The transfer of the property had already gone through when we got this worthless bit of paper which fortunately we didn’t pay for. So you can’t rely on the transferring attorneys to check the validity of these documents.
          In any case it’s pointless if the buyer has to employ his own electrician to make sure the seller’s sparky is on the level.
          So far we have been in the house for three years without being electrocuted, which shows just how unnecessary these certificates are anyway even if you can get a legitimate one. I doubt if there are any statistics to show how many people have been preventing from being shocked to death by a system that can be bent more easily than the thinnest of copper wire.
          Now the authorities are forcing us to get registered plumbers to provide the same kind of dubious service. It’s for our own good you understand. Their first priority is to eradicate all those drownings that have occurred in flooded bathrooms and gardens because of houses that were sold with faulty plumbing.
       Just because a plumber or electrician is registered it doesn't make them honest especially in South Africa where policing is so lax and the authorities are so corrupt.
          Plumbers are now being handed the same bonanza as their electrical counterparts. They have to ensure that your property is leak free before you can sell it.
          Every tap that might drip once a year; every pipe that in their opinion is past its life span will have to be replaced even it if means cutting into walls or digging up half the property.
          And as plumbers don’t work on credit you’ll be stuck with the home you possibly can no longer afford unless you can find a Fairy Godmother to help you out.
          Cape Town claims that this is being done because it loses about 80 billion litres of water a year that is wasted.
           Of course that’s all due to leaking taps or pipes in houses and business premises.
          It has nothing to do with billions of litres that go down the drain when a pipe bursts in the street and is fixed by the Municipality a week so later.\
          It has nothing to do with the water that is disappearing all the time without anybody knowing because of poorly maintained Municipal infrastructure. 
          It has nothing to do with the one tap for a 100 families in townships for the poor that nobody bothers to turn off because they are not paying for the water.
          It has nothing to do with the thousands of people who don’t worry about wasting water because they don’t pay their water bills anyway.
          So as usual the lawmakers are knocking the easy targets to deflect attention away from the real problem.
         Cape Town is oblivious to the fact that its new ineffective, plumbing bylaw won't stop us drowning in debt.
         And this can’t be far off if they keep on increasing rates, service delivery charges and forcing costly bylaws like this on us.
          Yours angrily,
          Jon, your Consumer Watchdog. 

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