ECDC tenants take brunt of billing dispute with BCM
Some factories renting warehouses from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation in Fort Jackson have been in the dark for at least three days because of the municipality’s “inaccurate billing” system.
While a funeral parlour managed to make “other arrangements” got connected back into the grid, some businesses, despite being up to date with their payment to the ECDC, were still without power on Thursday.
This is because Buffalo City Metro has disconnected the electricity because ECDC is in “arrears”. However, the ECDC disputed this, with acting spokesperson Lesley Govender blaming the city.
While the two government entities are blaming one another, businesses are suffering, with furniture manufacturer Iqbal Khan saying he’d had enough of power cuts and poorly maintained buildings.
Khan said he would take his business away.
“How can I pay for electricity and rent and then I do not get anything? I’ve been here for six years and business is not like before and the rates keep increasing, but we are not getting proper services,” he said.
Khan, who was once shot in the arm during a business robbery, said ECDC was not maintaining its buildings.
“Look at the walls of the warehouse, they fixed them early this year but look at them now – they have holes.”
Govender said they had not yet made the payment to BCM because they needed to perform a physical verification of the “inaccurate billing” provided by the municipality.
“This exercise resulted in ECDC being a month behind on payment. However, the municipality is aware of this since this is not a regular occurrence,” Govender said adding that that ECDC was concerned with any act that could lead to a loss of income and jobs.
“ECDC has not received notification from BCM which cites it would disconnect and the reasons for the disconnection,” Govender said.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the city disconnected electricity of customers in arrears. “If the accounts were not in arrears, BCM wouldn’t have been implementing disconnection action.”
When the Dispatch visited the funeral parlour, its owner declined to comment, saying she had made her own arrangements as they could not afford to go without power.
A manager in a chemical manufacturing company that still had no electricity on Thursday afternoon said she had also made other “arrangements”.
While the two businesses had made a plan many in the area were still without power. This threatened business profits that in turn might cost jobs.
Dale Murray, who owns a steel manufacturing firm said his staff went unpaid for three days this week because business was at a standstill.
“Today I thought I should take them offsite and go to Butterworth so that they can earn something for today.
“One might think that seven employees are few but imagine how many family and extended family members they support.”
He said without electricity his business operations had come to a complete halt.
How can I pay for electricity and rent and then I do not get anything?