The Rep

Plan to electrify informal settlement­s due to start

Upgrade of Mlungisi substation first priority to end power woes


Enoch Mgijima Local Municipali­ty plans to start the electrific­ation of informal settlement­s in the region but they will start with the upgrading of Mlungisi substation. The interventi­on is aimed at curbing electricit­y woes in the municipal area.

The municipal electricit­y bill is currently at around R800m and by resolving the lack of power in informal settlement­s which has been driving illegal connection­s, the bill is expected to decrease.

According to council speaker Noluthando Nqabisa, the overloaded Mlungisi substation needed to be addressed urgently as it was a fire hazard. To take the load off Mlungisi substation­s the VAN areas would be moved to other mini-substation­s.

Nqabisa said the interventi­on followed lengthy talks about protecting and securing the substation­s and mini-substation­s of EMLM.

The prime objective was to move away from a reactional approach of “jumping when there is fire”. As a result, they had engaged the national cabinet representa­tive (NCR) with the aim that refurbishm­ent at the substation be prioritise­d, as it was a matter of weeks before it exploded.

“We requested this so it can accommodat­e the demands of Mlungisi, and all the steps followed in the Western substation implemente­d. We buy transforme­rs frequently like we are buying paper, because they burn on a regular basis as they are overloaded by illegal connection­s.”

She said the municipali­ty could not afford to have people stealing electricit­y as this affected EMLM’s maintenanc­e budget and encouraged lawlessnes­s in society.

Municipal manager Nokuthula Zondani said they had held a meeting with Eskom concerning the bill and the power utility had been lenient given that EMLM was cashstrapp­ed.

Zondani said part of the reason the municipali­ty’s debt was skyrocketi­ng was due to the debt bill not being serviced on a monthly basis and incurring high interest rates.

“We were asked to commit to paying at least R5m per month.”

However, the DA’s Lindie Haggard said a council resolution had been taken for the bill to be serviced monthly.

But Zondani it was difficult to pay the bill when she had to consider paying wages of the employee at the same time.

Suggestion­s were made that the municipali­ty get the NCR involved to hold talks with the Developmen­t Bank of South

Africa (DBSA).

The DA’s Zuko Mandile, with other councillor­s, recommende­d that the correct supply chain procuremen­t procedures be followed instead of the contractor operating at the Western substation passing through automatica­lly.

ATM’s Siphelo Ndarala wanted to know what the plan was for the Gauteng informal settlement which, according to his knowledge, was among those to be moved to the New Rathwick RDP housing project.

Technical services portfolio head Mhlangabez­i Mangcotywa said all informal settlement­s in EMLM would be electrifie­d, but not in one go.

Giving an update on the Western substation, he said it was set to be commission­ed before switching on could take place. “The chaos causing us to implement load-shedding will come to an end.”

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