The big reveal was made by eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, Deputy Mayor, Fawzia Peer along with City Manager Sipho Nzuza (far left) and Councillor Mondli Mthembu (far right)

EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede launched the city’s first integrated toll-free customer service contact number, 080 311 11 11 and Mayoral Hotline number 031 322 8200 on monday February with a lunchtime spread and short presentation.

This in line with the city’s vision to be the most liveable city in Africa by the year 2030. the new hotline and contact number aim to improve customer services in the city.

“You will agree with me that at times, our service offering is not at the level that our customers expect. One of the measures that we are rolling out is exercising the integrating of customers services. We are investigating where we can integrate our customer services and systems.

This will ensure that we deliver a robust, efficient and effective customer service,” said Gumede. The project also boosted the mayors plans to make Durban a ‘Smart city,’ with technologically appropriate and cost effective solutions to problems.

“It is important that we find Smart and safer ways of dealing with our problems,” said Gumede.
The mayor said that as a municipality that cares for their people, the city was addressing complaints about their call centres.”We have heard the cries of our citizens and it is not easy to engage with us through our contact centres,” said Gumede.

According to Gumede, past problems were a result of the amalgamation from different municipalities into one and there were different numbers for different services. The new ‘One Number’ initiative aims to make it easier for the community to interact with the municipality.

The ONE NUMBE is for any queries relating to Water, Revenue, and Electricity or to contact the City’s switchboard. This ONE NUMBER is Toll-free from any landline or cell phone and will be operational 24 hours. The Hotline adds to the city’s existing Whatsapp number. “The number is assisting in dealing with most of our water and sanitation issues, already our Whatsapp number won an award from the office of the premier,” added Gumede. The Mayor emphasised that the Mayors hotline was not the first number that residents should call, but the number to use when all other avenues had been exhausted while logging a complaint or requesting a service. It is the last resort when all other avenues have failed. The office is already operational with a staff compliment of 10 trained people and operates on 12 lines currently. “The Mayoral Hotline is an extension of our operational Sukuma Sakhe. We have systems in place to deal with escalated issues from the ground.

“We need to be accessible to the public and through the Mayoral Hotline, we remain accessible,” said Mayor. Further to integrating customer service the Municipality will be looking at more convenient technologically appropriate and cost effective intervention that will move the City a little closer to being a Smart City. In the pipeline is the new municipal mobile App. This App will allow a live interaction between the Municipality and citizens to do various things such as to log Water and Electricity faults, check statements, events, weather and traffic. “We will also have eThekwini Municipality TV which will be at the walk-in centres, displaying information such as services offered and any notices,” added Gumede.