Fury over ongoing blackouts

2011-08-24 00:00

VARIOUS areas in the city remained without electricity yesterday, causing residents to complain about the Msunduzi Municipality’s failure to stabilise the electricity supply since the strike by municipal workers began last week Monday.

Affected areas were Sweetwaters, Mpumuza, Cascades, Muswell Hill, Glenwood, the Village area, parts of Montrose and traffic lights in the city centre.

Alan Vincent, a businessman who lives in Loveday Drive, Montrose, said, “The world operates on electricity and we have not had electricity from Sunday, and the municipality has told our area councillor that they may not be able to fix the outages today [yesterday].”

He said his security system has been affected as result of outages.

“Our electric gates and our alarm system are not working. Fortunately we were lucky in that some years ago, when we anticipated these problems, we decided to put gas in our house so the kitchen and geyser are working, but all the other electrical appliances are not.”

Vincent said the outages have set back his home business because he cannot send or receive e-mails.

The Village area near the Jika Joe informal settlement has not had electricity since Saturday night and three community leaders from that area came to The Witness to air their grievances.

“Who is going to buy the food that we have lost as a result of these outages?” asked one of them, who wished not to be named.

They said the major problem in the area stems from illegal connections by people in Jika Joe, a problem that they said the municipality is well aware of but does not seem to be making a priority.

“Our children have not been to school because even the uniforms are not ironed and they cannot use cold water in this weather,” said another.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said, “The affected areas are receiving attention and some have been restored.

“We are pleading with people to be patient because we only have one contractor fixing the city’s outages.”

He said the issue of illegal connections is being prioritised by the council and it is working with Department of Human Settlements to provide houses for the community of Jika Joe so that they no longer need to resort to illegal connections.

“When people have had their RDP houses built we will then demolish the existing informal settlement,” said Zuma.

He said that in Loveday Drive technicians have been able to identify the fault, but don’t have the staff to fix it.

Zuma said the technicians would be able to work on the problem last night or during the day today.

Meanwhile, local South African Municipal Workers’ Union secretary Thulani Nzimande said an even bigger strike is planned for tomorrow and that members of the community will also be joining.

After the strike union members will embark on a campaign to clean the streets and they will get rid of corrupt managers in the council.

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