So­lar street lights im­prove liv­ing con­di­tions

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - NORMA WILDENBOER STAFF RE­PORTER

RES­I­DENTS in Oli­fantshoek in the North­ern Cape have re­ported a “sig­nif­i­cant liv­ing im­prove­ment” since the in­stal­la­tion of so­lar street lights, while not­ing a drop in crime and bet­ter so­cial and trade con­di­tions.

Oli­fantshoek be­came the sec­ond com­mu­nity to ben­e­fit from Re­new­able En­ergy In­vest­ments South Africa (REISA)’s so­lar street light pro­gramme, an ini­tia­tive that aims to im­prove com­mu­nity safety, se­cu­rity and so­cial liveli­hoods for around 10 253 res­i­dents, in ad­di­tion to tak­ing ad­van­tage of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly so­lar-powered tech­nol­ogy.

The 105 so­lar street light units that have been in­stalled along Oli­fantshoek’s busiest main road and re­quire min­i­mal main­te­nance and zero run­ning costs.

“Our chil­dren can play un­til a bit later be­cause it’s safer and we can see bet­ter. Com­mu­nity mem­bers can freely at­tend night vig­ils be­cause the main road is safe to walk along dur­ing the evening time and school kids whose par­ents can­not af­ford elec­tric­ity usu­ally study or read un­der the street lights,” ex­plained Ma­juba Se­lao, an Oli­fantshoek com­mu­nity leader.

“They (the com­mu­nity) now feel safer, en­joy more time out­doors in the evening and even ben­e­fit from im­proved trade for in­for­mal busi­nesses, who can now keep their doors open for longer. The so­lar street lights have pro­vided our so­ci­ety with much-needed light­ing and com­mu­ni­ties such as Sk­er­pdrai and Diep­kloof have noted a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the safety and well-be­ing of their com­mu­nity mem­bers, with a sharp drop in the num­ber of bur­glar­ies.”

The lo­cal po­lice have also re­ported a de­crease in crime within the ar­eas that are near the so­lar street lights and that com­mu­nity mem­bers have be­come more safety con­scious by choos­ing to walk along the well-lit main road at night.

“The pro­ject was pro­posed by the pre­vi­ous mayor of Ga­m­a­gara Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, in the hope of re­duc­ing crime, mo­tor ac­ci­dents and most im­por­tantly to bet­ter the so­cial liveli­hoods of the com­mu­nity at large.

“It is REISA’s de­lib­er­ate strat­egy to, where ap­pro­pri­ate, part­ner with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and stake­hold­ers to en­sure align­ment of REISA’s in­ter­ven­tions with lo­cal pri­or­i­ties,” Veronique Isaacs, re­gional com­mu­nity op­er­a­tions man­ager for REISA, said.

In 2015, the Dibeng com­mu­nity were the first ben­e­fi­cia­ries of REISA’s so­lar street light pro­gramme, which in­cluded the in­stal­la­tion of 52 so­lar street lights cov­er­ing over 2km of road.

LIGHT­ING THE WAY: Sup­plied

The lives of the com­mu­nity of Oli­fantshoek have im­proved since the in­stal­la­tion of so­lar street lights, as part of REISA’s So­lar Street Light Pro­ject. Pic­ture:

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