Fed-up residents accuse Msunduzi of load shedding

2012-08-09 00:00

POWER outages over the past few days have angered residents in and around Pietermaritzburg, who accuse the Msunduzi Municipality of introducing load shedding without warning.

Woodlands, Eastwood, Imbali, Winterskloof, Perlham, Bisley, Northdale, Hilton, Mason’s Mill and Bakersville Heights, among other suburbs, have been hit by frequent power outages in the past few weeks, and residents are demanding answers.

Power in Woodlands went off for 12 hours on Wednesday from 11 am. It went out again at 8 am yesterday.

The municipality has denied it is carrying out load-shedding, saying the blackouts were due to “faults” on its electricity supply system as well as the cold weather.

Woodlands resident Ursula Plaatjies said: “I am not sure what the problem, but I can tell you that many residents [in Woodlands] are very angry at the situation.

“I for one have a sick child at home who has to be nebulised every four hours. I also have a very sick uncle who has stage four cancer …

“Now you tell me, can the municipality really be so heartless as to let these and many others suffer like this, and on such cold days too?”

Resident, Blair King, said: “There is a number that everyone is told to call. If you call this number you will hear for yourself that there are lots of areas that are without electricity, but Woodlands is not even listed as one of the areas being affected.”

Resident Mark de Vries said he found it strange that the Site 11 informal settlement near Woodlands had power while the suburb had none.

The Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business said the outages were harmful for business.

“Aside from the loss of income, no production means non-delivery, which in some cases puts businesses in breach of contracts and liable for penalty payments,” said CEO Melanie Veness.

In February Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said most of the electrical infrastructure in ­Pietermaritzburg needed to be replaced. A total of R15 million had already been invested in installing new electrical infrastructure in Hilton and Sweetwaters.

In a prepared statement yesterday, the municipality’s electricity process manger, Sewdutt Nagasar, said: “On August 7 and 8 we experienced numerous major faults on our system.

“Most of the faults could be attributed to the cold weather that we are experiencing and the increase in electricity demand.”

Meanwhile, the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, said: “It is sad that in this cold weather, some of us are without electricity.

“However, we have been assured by Eskom that they will do all they can to restore the supply as soon as it is possible to do so.”

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