We are in the dark

Residents in certain Komani areas are in the dark in more ways than one and they say the municipality neither gives answers nor do they care.

The areas of Sabatha Dalindyebo, Parkvale, Popcorn Valley, Victoria Park and Newvale have been experiencing frequent power cuts for weeks and other residents say it is a recurrent problem that has been going on for years, every winter.

Victoria Park store owner Cedric O’Connor said his customers would rather stay at home because they are afraid of criminals. “Last night (Tuesday) was the powerball. It was quiet here and it is usually busy. We have a generator to help run the store, but there are no customers because they won’t come in the dark.”

He said he had stopped calling the municipality to report or ask when it would return because he never received an answer. “A shop is where people meet and talk. Everyone is complaining about the same thing – electricity.”

On Monday the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) appointed a service provider to look into the problem of the affected areas.

EMLM spokesperson, Gcobani Msindwana, said although work was completed, the system was overloaded.

“The municipality is having challenges in terms of electricity provision which includes overloading. Our service provider completed the work, but they can do little about the overloading.

“We are, however, trying with all our expertise to resolve the outages and we appeal to communities not to do illegal connections and also to use electricity sparingly.”

The Rep had previously reported illegal connections in the Aloe T informal settlements. Msidwana said the municipality had been unable to cut the connections because the perpetrators had become confrontational and aggressive.

Thandi Simama who lives in Dalindyebo said illegal connections were the municipality’s fault. “They must do their job. If people are connecting power illegally they must go from house to house and inspect. I moved here in 2013 and it was an open secret that people stole electricity and that it always had these issues in winter.”

She said it was hard to get the most basic things done. “It is very inconvenient. We cannot cook or even bath; the most basic things in life. We have to use paraffin stoves. Electricity is expensive, at least for those of us who pay.

“It just goes out and we never know why and when it will return. Yesterday (Tuesday) it went off around 5pm and was off for almost four hours. The day before it went off early in the morning and came back after lunch.”

Newvale resident Nomkhango Nokhonya said now that elections had passed the municipality would never bother to answer phones or fix the problem.

“They have our votes now and they don’t care. They will never tell us anything.

I came from a vigil yesterday (Tuesday) and there was no power; it returned at 10pm.

“There is never a day that the electricity does not go off. It is exactly the same with the water. Both are frequently unavailable. On Monday it was gone in the morning, came back and was gone in the evening again. We now have to try and cook during the day because it is out every evening and only comes back late at night.”

On Tuesday morning Komani CBD and other areas around town were in the dark for about an hour. According to the EMLM a cat was electrocuted at a sub-station in Ebden Street.

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