The business fraternity is relieved that there is to be some form of intervention on intermittent electricity outages which they claimed were detrimental to daily business operations.
Eastern Cape Border-Kei Chamber of Business CEO Lizelle Maurice who recently presented feedback at an annual general meeting said the appointed task team had met with premier Oscar Mabuyane on August 10 to issue a 94 page petition in which locals penned their frustration on how they were negatively impacted by unplanned electricity outages.
“The MEC for finance and the cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC were also present. We were able to engage with them and they indicated they would look into it. We made a business case and said we needed at least R35 million to get the Ebden Street substation completely refurbished. Some work has been commissioned. It sounds promising and the business people and chamber members are content that something is being done,” said Maurice.
Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa announced last week that the Ebden Street substation, which was due for major upgrades, was handed over to a contractor that will be on site for 12 months. “Among other elements of the project, a second 20 MVA transformer will be installed to ensure added capacity, reliability and stability of power supply.” He said the R15 million upgrade project would commence in September.
However, several areas in the municipality continue to be plagued by power cuts. Last month Kowa reported a case of vandalism and theft of electrical infrastructure at the 22Kv substation in Ezibeleni. The substation was reportedly broken into and cables were cut off and stolen which caused major distribution challenges. Kowa also indicated that the Coldstream power station in Ezibeleni was also recently vandalised and left without protection and susceptible to damage.
Independent Komani Resident Association (iKora) spokesperson Zolile Xalisa said: “We experience a lot of damage to our electrical appliances and its painful because most of us pay our rates and service, thinking the municipality will be able to service the substations in Ezibeleni to avoid having these power cuts. There was also a transformer taken in for repairs and still has not been returned. We have elderly people with co-morbidities, who are suffering because of these outages.”
In his statement Kowa said outages in Ezibeleni were caused by a faulty transformer in the Unathi Mkefa area which was taken back to the service provider. “This caused more strain on the system as electricity is overloaded on a daily basis. On August 20, a municipal contractor was on site-inspection in Ezibeleni to establish the amount of damage and repairs needed to install and protect the Unathi Mkefa transformer.”
Kowa said repairs were expected and appealed for patience as the matter was to be permanently resolved.