In the dark

Age­ing in­fra­struc­ture blamed for out­ages

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ANDISA BONANI and PILANATHI RASMENI

WHILE the Enoch Mgi­jima Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity (EMLM) has in­di­cated it is ex­plor­ing plans to fix the age­ing in­fra­struc­ture of Ko­mani, busi­nesses and res­i­dents were this week count­ing the costs of a lengthy power out­age last week.

Water cuts ac­com­pa­nied the black­out, which started last Wed­nes­day, due to the in­abil­ity to pump water, but a gen­er­a­tor was brought in to as­sist with the sup­ply. Some re­mained without water long af­ter the power had been re­stored to most ar­eas on Satur­day morn­ing.

The power out­age came at the worst pos­si­ble time – month-end – for re­tail­ers and busi­ness own­ers.

AKM Foods man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nashid Dosa said one KFC store in town had man­aged to op­er­ate in­ter­mit­tently with the use of a gen­er­a­tor.

“The out­age has re­sulted in a loss of sales, as well as a large quan­tity of frozen stock. When mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices are func­tion­ing well, it is great for busi­ness and the com­mu­nity. We hope the power and water is­sues in Ko­mani will be cus­tomers.”

Water Zone owner Gail Lieberum said stock was sold out as cus­tomers filed in to buy drink­ing water, which was ben­e­fi­cial for the busi­ness but not for the town.

“The elec­tric­ity out­age af­fected us im­mensely be­cause we could not pu­rify more water as the machines need elec­tric­ity to func­tion. Luck­ily we had full tanks of pu­ri­fied water so we could sup­ply the water. We are a lit­tle be­hind with pu­ri­fy­ing at present and hope the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will sort out the elec­tric­ity is­sues.”

Bor­der-Kei Cham­ber of Busi­ness chair­woman Adré Bar­tis, who kept res­i­dents up­dated about the out­ages and progress on work via so­cial me­dia through­out the process, said many busi­nesses had been hit hard.

“Busi­nesses like Twizza and petrol sta­tions lost a lot of rev­enue due to the out­ages. One fill­ing sta­tion had to turn away buses which pas­sen­gers usu­ally used their ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties. SUPERSPAR had to use 10 000 litres of diesel for gen­er­a­tors which was a big loss. Hope­fully the mu­nic­i­pal­ity will use this as a learn­ing curve and sort it out be­fore the whole in­fra­struc­ture stops work­ing.”

The out­age had a com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Si­nox­olo Gqala said the cut in elec­tric­ity af­fected the ren­der­ing of ser­vices by the gov­ern­ment en­tity.

“The of­fice could not func­tion to full ca­pac­ity as com­put­ers and prin­ters were not work­ing. These out­ages have a neg­a­tive im­pact on our daily func­tions. Sassa of­fi­cials and ben­e­fi­cia­ries could not use ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties and had no drink­ing water, a ba­sic hu­man right. The of­fice management had to re­lease of­fi­cials as they waited for the restora­tion of power which

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity kept peo­ple in­formed via so­cial me­dia. We are await­ing a R6-mil­lion in­jec­tion

took longer than es­ti­mated.”

Res­i­dent Lu­vuyo Giwu from Phe­land­aba Ex­ten­sion said his area had been without water long be­fore the elec­tric­ity out­age. This had been re­ported, but without a re­sponse.

“We ini­tially did not even get water from the mu­nic­i­pal tankers, but af­ter the power out­age, they came. This water will not help us much be­cause we have been told not to con­sume it as it is un­safe. What is the point of bring­ing water that can­not be used to and Jou­bert Street which sup­plies elec­tric­ity to West­bourne and sur­round­ing ar­eas, blew.

A mu­nic­i­pal worker on site, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, said such in­ci­dents would be com­mon as the trans­form­ers had not been re­placed for more than a decade.

EMLM spokesman Fundile Feket­shane said the elec­tri­cal net­work faced chal­lenges, but re­pairs were be­ing done.

“The con­tin­u­ous break­down of sub­sta­tions is caused by age­ing elec­tric­ity in­fra­struc­ture and plans to have this fixed are un­der way. Plans to fix the Queen­dus­tria net­work are loom­ing as we are wait­ing for con­fir­ma­tion of a R6-mil­lion cash in­jec­tion.” Feket­shane said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had up­dated peo­ple via so­cial me­dia on what was hap­pen­ing.

“Chris Hani District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity was ap­proached to pro­vide water tanks to var­i­ous wards and we thank our com­mu­ni­ties for their pa­tience and sup­port. We apol­o­gise for the dam­age. The elec­tri­cal de­part­ment is busy with its main­te­nance pro­gramme so as to avoid the out­ages go­ing for­ward and if there is any planned

Pic­ture: ANDISA BONANI

WEL­COME SIGHT: Si­novuyo Nyani was thrilled with the rain which fell in Ko­mani on Wed­nes­day but stayed dry un­der his um­brella

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