Sobantu prepaid power on the cards

2012-10-01 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality will spend R5,5million installing prepaid electricity meters in Sobantu as part of a pilot project to effectively manage power supply to the poor and indigent.

The decision to install prepaid meters in Sobantu was approved during a full council meeting last week.

Sobantu residents have for years been calling for the installation of prepaid meters because they have lost faith in meter readers.

Most of the complaints arose in response to exorbitant bills because usage is estimated rather than properly calculated.

Some residents in Sobantu believed that the municipality was punishing them for its own maladministration mistakes which led to Msunduzi being placed under administration.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said a meeting had been held with residents of Sobantu and most of them supported the idea of installing prepaid meters.

“Sobantu has about 1 111 households, and each meter costs about R5 000 …

“We have a buy-in from the community because the majority of the people were calling for prepaid meters.”

Nkosi said this was “because they saw it as an easier way to manage and budget for their electricity”.

Insiders in the council claim that the issue has divided ANC councillors who are questioning the criteria used to take the project to Sobantu when there are other areas also in need of a prepaid service.

Nkosi said in response to the claim that Sobantu was smaller than other areas.The municipality would provide funding for those who are catered for in the indigent policy to install prepaid meters.

“U can leave in a house worth a million Rand but indigent because you can afford to maintain it because you are pensioner, then you are indigent,” he said.

He added that the municipality was finalising the process of classifying households that were indigent.

“We still need to conduct a public participation meeting, which should take us between four to six weeks.

“The project should be done in three months after that.”

Once the Sobantu pilot project was completed, prepaid meters would be rolled out to other areas.

Nkosi said the system would be audited daily to minimise electricity theft, which cost Msunduzi millions of rands in lost revenue.

Local councillor Thandi Matiwane welcomed the news, saying: “The municipality needs to ensure that pensioners, child-headed homes and the unemployed are catered for in the indigent policy because we have a lot of community members who fall into this category in Sobantu.”

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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