Minister says consumers must pay, and substations be fixed
Electricity minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa has invited Komani business owners to consider intervening with capital to help eradicate the electricity crises facing Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM).
In this way, he said, entrepreneurs would ensure their businesses were protected.
Urging consumers to pay for electricity, he said government could only pay for indigents.
Ramokgopa was speaking at an engagement session with the business sector about his Energy Action Plan in Komani recently.
Before his address, EMLM technical services Zwelethemba Nkosinkulu had provided an update on the state of the electricity infrastructure in Enoch Mgijima.
In response, Ramokgopa said the priority was fixing the substations.
“It is not government talking to itself but about this municipality finding solutions to ensure that we are able to sustain business in this area. “What is glaringly missing is to ask business what needs to be done to solve the substation issues. ”It is important to work with businesses to see the kind of capital investment they can make to be able to protect their businesses.”
The ministers acknowledge businesses were not prepared to respond during the session and a subsequent meeting with him would be arranged.
He said businesses in Pretoria had adopted the same strategy by setting up a meeting with the president at which they presented their interventions.
Ramokgopa said the notion that the municipality would find the money to resolve the electricity crises had to change.
He also conceded that government could not transfer the municipalities’ problems to the business sector of Komani.
Businesses and jobs needed to be saved and a new revenue base built for the municipality.
He said: “The effect of load reduction coupled with loadshedding, among other problems, will eventually collapse the town.”
“There is a new problem which the director has indicated which is load reduction which results from non technical losses where people where we not kept up with the growth settlement where your power will be cut. The effect of load reduction couple with loadshedding among other problem would eventually collapse the town, Ramokgopa stated,” Ramokgopa said.
The minister placed emphases in working together to stabilise the problem while urging for power consumers to pay.
“Everyone must pay, it can not just be a free for all. We can only subsidise the poor but everyone must a metre to know how much electricity they are consuming, otherwise you will live under the crises. ”Everyone is consuming, we do not know where and that is why Eskom is facing a big problem,” he said.
He also committed to efforts to assist the financially embattled municipality financially to eradicate power woes.
The minister also mentioned of the government plan to scrap off municipal Eskom debt for municipalities which were struggling to pay.
Those paying for electricity in EMLM bore the brunt from the illegal connections that have been dragging down the local power grid for years.
“The payers are casualties because when the transformers blow up, everyone has no electricity. The loyal household customers will relocate and industries will leave and the municipality’s revenue will be eroded. The snowball effect is that you will not be able to build roads, patch potholes, and provide water services,” he said.
He said it was imperative to improve the generation capacity of power stations.