Copesville outages getting worse

2012-07-11 00:00

THE unreliable electricity supply in Copesville in Pietermaritzburg is testing residents’ tolerance levels to the limit.

Angry residents yesterday called The Witness, complaining that they had been without electricity for the past three days.

Worse, the power outages have become more frequent and longer over the past year.

By last night the electricity had been restored in some parts of the suburb.

The main causes of power outages, residents said, were cable theft and illegal tampering.

Susan Anthony, a community member, said: “We woke up on Sunday morning and we were without power. We have called the Msunduzi Municipality call centre on numerous occasions, but to no avail; no one has attended to the problem.”

She said electricity problems started at the same time last year, and that power would go out for days.

“It goes out almost every month; we have power for two weeks and no power for the next week. If there is power in one street, there is no power in the other street.”

She said the matter had been so serious she had even written to the mayor’s office.

This could not be independently verified.

Anthony said the constant power outages were costing residents thousands of rands and putting their families at risk.

“We are paying over a thousand rand per month on electricity and we are throwing away thousands of rands’ worth of [spoiled] food.

“In this cold weather we need electricity. I have two children with heart conditions and if anything happens to them because of these outages, I will sue the municipality.

“The municipality should find a permanent solution to the problem. It should understand that we are not asking for any favours here; we want what we pay for,” said Anthony.

Another resident, Feroza Khan, said the situation had become intolerable. “If we miss one month of payment they cut us off. There is an informal settlement across us and they have electricity that they do not pay for, yet we are without the service that we pay for.”

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the problems in Copesville were known to the council and were proving complex to solve.

“There are huge challenges, including copper theft in Copesville, which cannot be solved by the municipality alone. We sympathise with the community, but we cannot provide solutions overnight. The council is, however, working hard to find a solution to these challenges.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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