Kick Redforce out – Walvis Bay residents

DOWN, REDFORCE … Walvis Bay residents earlier this week took to the streets to protest against Redforce Debt Management’s exorbitant fees. Photo: Taati Niilenge

Walvis Bay residents on Wednesday protested against the high charges implemented by Redforce Debt Management to recover money owed to the municipality.

The municipality began using the debt recovery agency in 2023 after struggling to recover residents’ debts.

Residents, however, say this is unlawful and pushes them into deeper debt.

Some residents claim they now have to pay up to N$80 000 for their water supply, as Redforce allegedly adds additional charges to their bills.

Others say they are forced to live without water.

Residents representative Elvis Goseb says using a debt management company is not practical amid widespread economic hardship.

“The credit control policy of the Walvis Bay Municipality was never tabled at the National Assembly after a revised draft in January 2022. The document was never signed off by the council and adopted.

“The credit control policy document, therefore, is an illegal document enforced upon the residents of Walvis Bay . . .

“We would like to know whether the debt collector tender was published as per the Procurement Act, or was it a handpicked firm to benefit the elites of the municipality?”

Goseb says the debt collector does not have the mandate to disconnect residents’ water supply, and claims the 12% extra charge on outstanding debt is illegal.

“Redforce is threatening residents to pay 75% of outstanding debt before any reconnection of water supply, making it an unlawful act. It is currently carrying out the functions of the revenue department of the municipality of Walvis Bay. Employees in the department continue to receive full salary and benefits while their job is outsourced.”

Goseb asked why the municipality did not have a meeting with the residents, as it is mandated to convene at least three public meetings annually to discuss matters of public interest.

He also accused the municipality of breaching customer confidentiality by disclosing private information to a third party without the written consent of the customer.

The residents want the municipality to write off debts accumulated since Covid-19, asserting that they were accrued as a result of the government’s state of emergency directive.

They also want the council to cancel Redforce’s contract.

In addition, they want the removal of the 12% charged to outstanding accounts.

They want the council to consider a 50/50 debt recovery payment plan, or the implementation of prepaid water meters.

The residents gave the council until 5 April to respond.

The petition was handed over to acting chief executive Frans !Gonteb, who said the matter would be discussed and feedback would be provided by the due date.

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