Business told of electricity plans

2012-12-12 00:00

WHILE for many businesses recently hit by outages it was a case of “we’ve heard all this before”, the Msunduzi Municipality’s electricity department yesterday argued that concrete plans were now in place to stabilise and improve electricity infrastructure and supply.

The new head of the department, Sabatha Nomnganga, addressed business owners and managers at a meeting hosted by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB).

He stressed that their plans to stabilise and improve the electricity network will probably take several years to complete, given the lack of financial and human resources in the department. He conceded that businesses and employees have suffered massive production and income losses.

However, Nomnganga added that many businesses and consumers were guilty of makiing illegal connections and not paying their bills.

A number of interventions are in the process of being implemented to improve the electricity network — initially over a three-year period.

Some of the work will be financed directly by the municipality. The municipality is also accessing the support of the Independent Development Trust (IDT).

The municipality is in the process of purchasing fault location machines to resolve cable faults quicker than has been the case up until now.

The plan also includes new switchgear for distribution points (or stations) in various parts of the city.

The department was also in the process of acquiring 60 km of electricity cable to stabilise the city’s electricity network.

In this regard, they plan to start work in Willowton, before moving to Masons Mill and other areas of Pietermaritzburg.

Branch manager of operations at the department, Doray Vallo, said that they have also put in place a plan to change the layout of the network to isolate faults in the system more easily.

Nomnganga stressed that ageing infrastructure meant that there was a need to replace old sub-stations rather than repair them.

He called on electrical engineers and other interested parties to engage with the department and provide input regarding their plans.

“We welcome any suggestions. This is your network,” Nomnganga said.

PCB CEO Melanie Veness thanked Nomnganga and his team for engaging with businesses, but also stressed that his department should work 24 hours a day to fix the ongoing problems.

She said the city had lost production, income and potential investment as a result of the electricity supply woes.

“Guaranteed, there is going to be change. If you give us time, you’ll see the difference,” said Nomnganga.

City businessman and first deputy president of the PCB, Kevin Beekrum, said that although a plan was in place, it lacked a serious sense of urgency, as businesses needed concrete time-frames.

“People are not moving like the ship is sinking. In terms of the municipality, it seems there is a lack of urgency across all the business units,” said Beekrum.

Businesswoman Michele de Souza suggested that Msunduzi’s call centre post regular updates regarding current outages on its answering machine system.

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