ECDC ten­ants take brunt of billing dis­pute with BCM

Daily Dispatch - - News - SIPHE MACANDA SE­NIOR RE­PORTER siphem@dis­patch.co.za

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?

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