Computer glitch forces hundreds to queue up to buy electricity

2012-12-03 00:00

HUNDREDS of Howick residents, including mothers with children, were forced to wait for hours in queues on Friday and Saturday to buy pre-paid electricity after the council’s computers malfunctioned.

uMngeni’s municipal manager, Dr Mpilo Ngubane, told The Witness that the software problem had been resolved after they got a technician in from Durban.

He added that it was unlikely that residents would experience the same technical problems this week.

Democratic Alliance ward two councillor Janis Holmes said all of uMngeni municipality’s pre-paid electricity outlets were down for hours due to an unsuccessful upgrade of the software used to issue pre-paid electricity.

“I understand that the computers kept freezing,” she said. “The staff would serve one customer and then the computer would freeze and they would then have to reboot the system and start again. On Friday, there were these really long queues [of people] and it was raining, [but] at four o’clock, the doors were closed in their faces. A lot of young mums with children had no electricity on Friday night and they told me they couldn’t feed their families. The council really let people down on Friday by closing their doors.”

Those who returned on Saturday morning had to wait again, but after intervention from the mayor, Mbali Myeni, and other concerned councillors, the offices in Howick were kept open until 4 pm to assist those in need of electricity.

Myeni said: “We had to ensure that the long queues were attended to, and we only locked the doors once everyone was dealt with.”

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