Residents irate after not told of EMLM move to start loadshedding


POWER ISSUE: Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality introduces load-shedding in parts of Komani  Picture: 123RF / beercrafter

Instead of dealing with illegal connections, the municipality has now opted for load shedding in certain parts of Komani.

This is the sentiment of residents of Ezibelenei and Victoria Park who were upset after learning that the municipality had been implementing loadshedding for months without their knowledge.

A group of Ezibeleni residents said to have heard about the loadshedding for the first time while officials argued in front of them at the department on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Victoria Park resident Cliff Pringle said to have learnt about this from one of the department’s technicians.

A resident who did not want to be named said: ”Our electricity is on and off. Our appliances are being ruined. Imagine being without electricity in this cold weather. We came to the technical services department yesterday as well, but there is no one giving us attention. ”We are told to go to the office of the mayor.”

The Rep forwarded queries to EMLM spokesperson Lonwaba Kowa inquiring whether the municipality was implementing loadshedding and why this had not been disclosed to the public.

A press statement was then issued by the municipality on social media, stating it was was now introducing loadshedding.

However, this came as a surprise to EMLM DA PR councillor Sakhumzi Mkhunqe, who said there was no council resolution for loadshedding to be implemented.

Pringle said last week EMLM’s mission of disconnecting illegal connections was just a show, as people continued with the illegal connections.

He added: ” We are concerned with the different theories and excuses to explain why this is happening.

”We find it strange that the unscheduled power outages are attributed to overloading and now due to a ‘stolen’ cable. If it is as a result of overloading, why is it lasting from 12.30 to 7pm, nearly every day, in certain areas?

”If it is a result of a stolen cable, why was this not mentioned last week and the weeks before? When was this cable actually stolen?

”Strangely enough, after several questions were asked, EMLM purportedly issued a statement in an attempt to notify residents about the loadshedding, which is nonsensical because it is only aimed at certain areas and not the whole of Komani.

”If high usage, demand or overload is the problem, why is EMLM not taking action against the real culprits?

Did the owners of the several containers all over the town, apply for electricity in the prescribed manner? If not, why is no action taken?”

He asked why Ezibeleni, Aloevale, Victoria Park, Newvale, Sabata and Sandringham were the only targets, instead of all Komani areas.

Pringle asked about the installation of new smart boxes in residential households and said many people were forced electricity illegally as EMLM did not repair them.

”Sadly, and unfortunately so, compliant users must now suffer the consequences of a municipality which lacks the ability to deal with this situation decisively,” he said.

Ezibeleni ward councillor Lonwabo Nondyola who went with residents to technninal services said the loadshedding lasted for up to four hours in all wards in Ezibeleni.

”We have a problem with technicians who give us the wrong information.

”I was told the electricity was back on, but I was surprised to find that it had not been switched on, and the residents did not see anyone on site.”

EMLM spokesperson, Lonwabo Kowa, said load reduction was aimed at ensuring proper monitoring of the electricity load and avoiding unplanned outages.

”Load reduction had to be implemented as a matter of urgency because a number of areas were experiencing outages related to system overload, especially on cold days.”

The were speculations that Top Town was said also affected by the power restriction.

But Kowa said there was no load shedding implemented in Top Town, adding that the area’s power was closely monitored.

”Consumption is high at this stage. Victoria Park, Sabatha, Aloevale and Newvale are experiencing load reduction due to an excessive increase in power consumption which led to intermittent power outages.”

He said illegal connections were being tackled through different campaigns, such as the smart metering project, however it had been delayed on account of the lockdowns.

”Auditing of businesses is already underway and a number of discrepancies have been detected. The municipality has been conducting random checks at businesses and households and in this campaign bypasses and incidents of tampering were detected and fines handed out.”