Electricity: why city can't cope

2009-03-26 00:00

The electricity woes the city has faced over the past few days are the legacy of years of neglect of the city's infrastructure as a result of competing needs after Msunduzi Municipality became responsible for supplying services to extended areas.

Phil Mashoko, deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services, said yesterday that competing needs had resulted in a shortage of funds for maintenance in years gone by.

"Many areas which previously had not had adequate roads, water, electricity and sanitation had to be upgraded. This meant that funds were being spent on extending services to areas without services." Mashoko said this is not a problem unique to Msunduzi, but one that resonates as a national challenge.

He said the municipality is now using municipal infrastructure grant funding for extending services and council funds for maintenance. "The backlog is huge. It cannot be dealt with in a year."

Mashoko said that besides the lack of maintenance, theft is also a huge problem.

He reaffirmed council's commitment to overcoming the city's electricity woes, saying there is a five-year plan to deal with the backlogs. "In 2006 we did a review of the network and the plan was devised to replace and refurbish the infrastructure's switchgears, transformers and cables." He said that once the Pine Street transformers arrive, the substation will be like new.

'Unfirm': Other substations at risk

THE Pine Street substation is not the only one at risk, according to Phil Mashoko, deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services.

He admitted yesterday that both Woodburn substation and Mkondeni are also "unfirm", meaning that there is no available back-up if they fail.

He said the municipality has ordered three transformers for Mkondeni, which are expected any time. "We have contingency plans to deal with any break- down, but it is a challenge."

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