In the dark
Ageing infrastructure blamed for outages
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
WELCOME SIGHT: Sinovuyo Nyani was thrilled with the rain which fell in Komani on Wednesday but stayed dry under his umbrella