Three years to fix PMB power

2011-12-31 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality needs R300 million and three years to sort out the city’s electricity problems.

This emerged at a special meeting of the city’s Executive Committee yesterday, in the wake of a series of outages around the city before and over Christmas.

Mountain Rise, Hilton, Boughton and Blackridge were the worst affected suburbs, and the municipality has made repeated promises that the problem of the ageing infrastructure would be sorted out.

The city has already set aside more than R91 million to sort out the problem of outages.

Independent Development Trust (IDT) national programme manager Sizwe Zulu said it would manage the funds, to be made available by the Department of Energy, while working together with the municipality.

He said work should start in January as soon as an agreement is signed between the department, the municipality and IDT.

IDT is a development agency that offers programme management and development advisory services to government departments and other development partners.

“We were called by Msunduzi to intervene and implement the project to solve problems of electricity infrastructure,” said Zulu.

He said it would compile a business plan to the Department of Energy because it is one of the department’s implementing agencies.

“We will provide our own engineers to assess the electricity infrastructure in the city and also look at the areas that are currently without electricity in Msunduzi,” said Zulu.

“This project should take us at least three years to complete.”

He said this should not be a problem because the political will is there, with Deputy Minister of Energy, Barbara Thomson, intervening to solve the electricity problem.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said: “We called this urgent meeting because of the pressing need to address the problem power cuts that have become to problem to our consumers and the citizens.”

He said they consulted the Department of Energy to help the city solve the problem of ageing electricity infrastructure. “We are grateful to our consumers for being patient with us while we were looking at avenues to solve this problem,” said Ndlela.

Ndlela said he was not promising there would not be any more outages, but wanted to show citizens how far they have gone in solving the problem.

“Our priority number one is to address the problem of electricity right across the city,” said Democratic Alliance caucus leader Bill Lambert.

“We are now worse off than ever before. The public, our citizens and business people are looking for us to show leadership and move forward,” said Lambert.

He said they have no option but to appoint the IDT to address the urgent electricity related challenges.

“If this is not done then we must call for government intervention to have Msunduzi declared a national disaster area and all that goes with that,” Lambert added.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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