Firm fired after failure to connect power

2014-09-19 00:00

THE company initially appointed to connect electricity at Ezinketheni, near Copesville, was apparently fired for poor performance.

The company, identified as Ifalakhe Electrical Contractors, was allegedly fired in May last year after it fell behind the deadline to connect 500 houses by the end of August. It had not connected a single house in five months.

Attempts to reach Ifalakhe Electrical were unsuccessful; the number listed under their name is not in service.

Mthandeni Zikhali, a ward committee member in Ezinketheni, where violent protest over electricity recently flared up, said Ifalake had been contracted from January and was fired in May.

He said the Independent Development Trust (IDT), the implementing agent, believed Ifalakhe had fallen so far behind that there was no possibility it would meet the deadline.

The company’s poor relations with the ward committee members, failing to attend several scheduled progress meetings, also did not help and served to hasten its exit.

“What we know is that the IDT said the company had fallen behind schedule and would not have made the demanded deadlines and hence their contract was terminated. We have no idea whether they were also not being paid on time,” said Zikhali.

“Their budget was skewed. They prioritised putting up the poles and a few wires, but when it came to connecting the houses, they were falling behind and they had no money,” he said.

Zikhali said the new contractor was also cutting it close on the deadline.

“This community is large and therefore it has been broken into zones. Our agreement is that six of the 10 zones should be connected by the end of October, so that all the houses have electricity by Christmas.”

Speaking about the protests, which led to the closure of the R33, he said the dispute began on Friday when the new contractor decided to stop working until it was paid by the IDT.

“The director of the company said there was a lot of overdue money that the IDT had not paid them, so they decided not to work on Friday. The way the IDT made payments to the company delayed them. We learned later that they were paid on Friday and wanted to resume work on Monday, but the community had become angry.”

Zikhali said they had been given an undertaking by the mayor that the IDT had been removed as the implementing agent and that payments would now be made directly by the municipality.

Several attempts to speak to IDT officials were unsuccessful. The media officials’ phone went unanswered and the head office line rang once and cut off.

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