City acts on blackouts

2011-12-15 00:00

MSUNDUZI is brightening up — electricity wise, that is. The municipality’s priority is to save Christmas this year and millions have been spent on electrical spare parts to have on hand in case the lights go out.

Memories are still fresh of last year’s bleak Christmas. The electricity in large parts of the city went off mid-morning — just as turkeys were being popped into ovens and trifles being placed in fridges to set.

Democratic Alliance councillor Bill Lambert, who lives in Wembley and was affected by last year’s outage, is making certain he does not forgo another Christmas dinner.

At the executive committee (Exco) meeting this week he asked in desperation: “Have we or have we not got spares if more outages occur?” Acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko assured him everything was being done, but with electricity it is impossible to prepare for all eventualities.

Maseko said high-risk areas like Hilton have been prioritised. Work is being done to ensure that the infrastructure is checked and that there are spare parts on hand in case there are problems.

Additional transformers have been ordered at a cost of R26 million. They will be on hand in case any of the older transformers in the city’s ageing infrastructure blow up.

Maseko said another advantage of administrator Sbu Sithole moving to eThekwini as the new municipal manager was that “he can lend us spares”.

Mayor Chris Ndlela retorted that it wouldn’t be that easy, as Sithole would have to get permission from his mayor, James Nxumalo.

“Then you will have to ask, Mr Mayor,” Lambert said.

Repartee aside, there was good news overall for city residents as the municipality now has some money in hand.

Exco was told that R40 million had been set aside to refurbish the troublesome Hilton line and that a tender for the job had already been advertised.

More than R10 million had been re-allocated from an information systems project to be used to address the city’s ongoing power outages and network failure.

In addition, applications were made to the Department of Energy for funding for electrification projects in the city.

A major service delivery obstacle has been the lack of vehicles, and R15 million has been allocated to upgrade the municipality’s vehicle fleet.

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