Maritzburgers’ reactions mixed

2008-03-20 00:00

Eskom’s proposal to raise its tariffs by 53% has upset many households and business people in Pietermaritzburg.

Most people interviewed by The Witness were angry with the national electricity supplier and criticised the government for its tardiness in handling the electricity crisis. Many complained about having to prepare for a new round of belt-tightening.

Jabulani Mlambu, manager of Primi Khaya restaurant at the Liberty Midlands Mall, was furious after reading about the proposed increase. He believed it would affect his business badly.

"I am upset. You can’t increase the amount by 53% in a year. We pay R11 000 on electricity rates here." If the rates were to go up by that percentage, how would he contain the prices on his menu? "How is the business supposed to be profitable?" he asked.

Said Shamaman Harrilall, interviewed in a random street survey: "It is ridiculous that [government] ministers are receiving performance bonuses when there is no performance. They should have made more atomic stations rather than coal-powered stations. We have the land and resources for it, and at least when the coal runs out we will still have atomic energy."

Elisma Wilken declared, "I am very unhappy about this".

Graeme Michie asked, "Why is this only becoming a problem now? Government has known for a long time that there would be an electricity crisis and failed to do anything about it. Now, right before 2010, we are being punished by the crisis."

Louise Celliers felt that it was unfair that she pays for something that she cannot use. "I will pay when they deliver," she said defiantly.

Isamail Padrudin spoke out in support of Eskom’s decision to hike its rates: "It doesn’t really affect me; by increasing the cost of electricity we will reduce the usage of it. I think it is a good initiative."

Vivela Beekram, a project manager at Umgeni Water, strongly opposed the hike. "I have an absolutely negative feeling toward Eskom’s decision to increase their rates. The government should take full responsibility because of their lack of planning … other institutions should see this blunder as something to learn from."

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