Angry Ezibeleni residents storm EMLM building

POWER OUTAGE: Residents who had enough of living without power for days protest at the technical services department today   Picture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

Irate Ezibeleni residents who have been without electricity for five days stormed the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality’s (EMLM) technical services building earlier today demanding the immediate restoration of power in their area.

The group of about 20 residents of Zone 1 in Ezibeleni burned tyres on the premises and blocked the gate, initially barring fire engines, community policing forum members and traffic officers from entering.

They alleged that EMLM technical services acting director Thulani Malingatshoni and manager Madodo Matola had made a commitment in a meeting with residents
yesterday that work to restore power would begin at 10am today.

However, when community members saw no work taking place on site at noon, they began to mobilize, got into a truck and headed to the technical services department in
Prince Alfred Street to confront the managers.

It took a while before the residents could convince Matola to come out of his office because he apparently feared for his life. Once he came out, he told the group that the
delay to repairs was caused by a Komani service provider who pulled out at the eleventh hour.

“The service provider said he has released his workers for the long weekend. I am trying to organise a contractor from Molteno which is under the municipality to come
here, but the problem is the owner is in Ngcobo and his phone is not being answered.

We were told the truck from East London will arrive with the transformer at 2 pm,”he said.

The residents allowed Matola to return to his office to make further calls.

The police arrived at the scene and the gates were opened to make way for the fire engine to put out the tyre blaze.
Visibly fed up, the residents made numerous remarks including that the fire fighters were quick to attend to petty fires while houses in Ezibeleni were left deserted after
burning to the ground because fire engines either responded late or not at all.

The transformer eventually arrived in a truck from East London, giving the residents some hope. Matola also managed to locate the service provider in Victoria Park and
said he would come on site in less than two hours and start work.

The residents then began to disperse. One of them, Luvuyo Magongoma, said: “Our issue is that our electricity went out on Sunday and the municipality did not attend to
us.

People have been reporting for a long time and received bad responses from EMLM control room service operators. They were rude over the phone and they became annoyed when residents called. We told the manager about this yesterday.

Residents decided to come here yesterday to hear for themselves.”

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