Call for elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer

Mu­nic­i­pal­ity urged to em­ploy pro­fes­sional to halt out­ages


KO­MANI Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Tokkie Dey­sel has chal­lenged the Enoch Mgi­jima Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to em­ploy a qual­i­fied elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer so the lo­cal au­thor­ity can solve the elec­tri­cal out­age chal­lenges it faces.

Var­i­ous ar­eas, in­clud­ing Ez­i­be­leni, Top Town, Bergsig and Mlungisi, have been plagued by out­ages over the past few months with res­i­dents tak­ing to so­cial me­dia to vent their anger and de­spair.

The du­ra­tion of out­ages has var­ied but Zola res­i­dents in Tarkas­tad – which also falls within the Enoch Mgi­jima mu­nic­i­pal area – were left with­out power for five days at the end of last month.

Dey­sel, speak­ing to The Rep this week, said that since for­mer tech­ni­cal ser­vices direc­tor Piet Bezuiden­hout re­tired in 2014, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had not had a qual­i­fied elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer.

Dey­sel has also ques­tioned the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s progress in im­ple­ment­ing the elec­tric­ity mas­ter plan, which re­solved to up­grade the in­fra­struc­ture at a cost of R5-mil­lion over five years, fol­low­ing a coun­cil res­o­lu­tion in 2015 – and whether fund­ing, pledged by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in his state of the na­tion ad­dress in the same year to curb elec­tric­ity prob­lems in the for­mer Lukhanji, had been re­ceived and utilised ac­cord­ingly.

He said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had, dur­ing a meet­ing with the as­so­ci­a­tion the same year, in­di­cated that all was on track in ad­dress­ing the elec­tri­cal prob­lems in the town.

This week, Dey­sel said a ca­ble in Grey Street had sim­ply been cov­ered up and not been prop­erly re­paired last year, adding to the power prob­lems in the CBD.

Dey­sel – who is also call­ing for a foren­sic au­dit of the for­mer Lukhanji mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s af­fairs – said he would sup­port the open­ing of a ratepay­ers’ ac­count where the money would be de­posited un­til the mu­nic­i­pal­ity de­liv­ered ser­vices.

This would de­pend on whether it was le­gal and whether it was deemed to be in line with the con­sti­tu­tion.

He said the struc­ture was wait­ing for a man­date from its mem­bers.

“The peo­ple who cre­ated the mess we find our­selves in are still work­ing for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The heads of de­part­ments must en­sure peo­ple who are qual­i­fied get the jobs. There is also in­com­pe­tence among the heads of de­part­ments.”

Enoch Mgi­jima com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Gcobani Msind­wana said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was fac­ing two prob­lems when it came to elec­tric­ity pro­vi­sion.

“Our qual­i­fied elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer, Ge­orge Ze­balunge re­signed and we had dif­fi­culty im­ple­ment­ing our five year mas­ter plan. Peo­ple are not pay­ing for ser­vices and as a re­sult the mu­nic­i­pal­ity can not fund the mas­ter plan. We have a se­ri­ous chal­lenge of funds.”

Msind­wana said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ended up hav­ing to fund main­te­nance in­stead of new elec­tri­cal projects.

“Il­le­gal con­nec­tions are also af­fect­ing the man­ner in which we sup­ply elec­tric­ity. We want to de­liver reli­able elec­tric­ity to our peo­ple and we must apol­o­gise that we can not al­ways de­liver to the ex­pected stan­dards.”

Msind­wana en­cour­aged lo­cals to pay for the ser­vices as the money would be in­vested back into pro­vid­ing ser­vices.

Picture: SUP­PLIED

VERY DAN­GER­OUS: An elec­tric­ity wire dan­gles be­tween a pole and an elec­tric­ity box be­tween Hofmeyer and Ko­mani streets in Ko­mani

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