‘WE WILL RE­PAIR IT’

... says EMLM mayor as power prob­lems es­ca­late

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ZOLILE MENZELWA

WITH the elec­tric­ity sup­ply net­work of the Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (EMLM) on the verge of col­lapse, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is fi­nal­is­ing a busi­ness plan to en­sure ac­cess to funds set aside by the pro­vin­cial trea­sury to deal with the chal­lenges plagu­ing the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

The Rep re­ported (“Good news as gov­ern­ment pri­ori­tises Komani power”, March 10) that Trea­sury MEC Sakhumzi Somyo made spe­cial men­tion of EMLM while tabling the pro­vin­cial bud­get in Fe­bru­ary.

Somyo said R80.9-mil­lion had been al­lo­cated to the co­op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs depart­ment as a short-term in­ter­ven­tion for the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion pro­gramme in tar­geted ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

“Fur­ther­more, an as­sess­ment is un­der way in Komani un­der EMLM to iden­tify the mag­ni­tude of the elec­tric­ity chal­lenges that are ham­per­ing busi­ness op­er­a­tions,” Somyo said.

Ad­dress­ing a me­dia brief­ing re­cently, EMLM ex­ec­u­tive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza Nk­wentsha said the lo­cal au­thor­ity would need R26-mil­lion to im­ple­ment ur­gent projects that had been iden­ti­fied to re­solve cur­rent power sup­ply prob­lems.

She said elec­tric­ity out­ages con­sti­tuted a huge prob­lem for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and af­fected ev­ery­one in the area.

A meet­ing had been called be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal man­age­ment and elec­tri­cians to con­sider such chal­lenges.

These prob­lems, she said, in­cluded the net­work that had not been main­tained for the past 12 years.

“Staff have only been do­ing fault re­pairs. Af­ter the amal­ga­ma­tion there were no ad­di­tional staff or bud­get to deal with the elec­tric­ity. We do not have an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer but we have ad­ver­tised the post in na­tional news­pa­pers,” she said.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity had also sourced quo­ta­tions from ser­vice providers for the main­te­nance of the elec­tri­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

“We would need to ap­point a qual­i­fied com­pany to have a main­te­nance con­tract for three to five years,” she said, adding that other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were do­ing this.

Act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Siyabonga Nkonki, Gunuza Nk­wentsha said, had gone to KSD Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Buf­falo City Metro for bench-mark­ing on how to deal with the elec­tric­ity sup­ply chal­lenges.

“We en­gaged our bud­get and trea­sury to get in­ter­nal funds and re­di­rect them to sort out the elec­tric­ity cri­sis. We will give more ca­pac­ity to em­ploy­ees at tech­ni­cal ser­vices and add more ve­hi­cles.”

She con­firmed that there was a risk of elec­tro­cu­tions as mini sub­sta­tions were left stand­ing open, which could lead to law­suits.

“The net­work at present is on the point of col­lapse. We have a lack of staff ca­pac­ity to do main­te­nance. We also need to ap­point a com­pany that can pro­vide a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel for staff and cus­tomers. We would also need to en­able field work­ers to log cases on be­half of res­i­dents,” she said, adding that such a sys­tem would then au­to­mat­i­cally as­sign cases to rel­e­vant de­part­ments, with res­i­dents able to track the progress of their cases via the web­site or a mo­bile app.

The is­sue of il­le­gal con­nec­tions and the im­pact thereof on the elec­tric­ity sup­ply net­work was also re­ceiv­ing se­ri­ous at­ten­tion.

Trans­gres­sors would be met with the might of the law, she warned.

Gunuza Nk­wentsha said there had been ac­cu­sa­tions that

mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees had also been in­volved in il­le­gal con­nec­tions.

“We are go­ing to take un­pop­u­lar de­ci­sions go­ing for­ward to deal de­ci­sively with the mat­ter. We will start off by hav­ing an aware­ness cam­paign and by en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple with il­le­gal con­nec­tions to come for­ward so we can find a solution.”

She said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would have to “for­give” those who vol­un­tar­ily came for­ward but they would have to buy their own elec­tri­cal boxes.

“We want to deal with this cri­sis. We also want to apol­o­gise to our com­mu­ni­ties for the cri­sis we find our­selves in.”

She said there would be a com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan to in­form the public of im­pend­ing out­ages.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the re­la­tion­ship we have with the lo­cal me­dia and that you are able to come when we call so we can ad­dress is­sues fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. We must change the way peo­ple see this mu­nic­i­pal­ity and we must work to­gether to build it.”

A no­tice else­where in this is­sue warns of a cut to Ez­i­be­leni on Sun­day, from 7am to 5pm “in prepa­ra­tion for the con­nec­tion of the new trans­former to ex­ist­ing sub­sta­tions”.

Pic­ture: CHUX FOURIE

IN DIS­RE­PAIR: An elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion near Fron­tier Hos­pi­tal

Pic­ture: ZOLILE MENZELWA

GIV­ING DI­REC­TION: Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity ex­ec­u­tive mayor Lindiwe Gunuza Nk­wentsha said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity was deal­ing with the elec­tric­ity chal­lenges dur­ing a press brief­ing last Thurs­day

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