Shoddy electrical work

2013-07-29 00:00

A costly comedy of errors

RESIDENTS in a complex in Boughton recently had problems with their electricity.

A team from the municipality’s electricity department turned up last Sunday morning. However, when they left after the problem was presumably fixed, a power surge caused appliances, including stoves, washing machines, kettles and toasters, to oblow up.

In one of the eight units a glass-top stove exploded. Fortunately no one was hurt. Another resident who went to a local electrical store discovered that her appliances would cost over R40 000 to replace. Witness Warriors tried to talk to the residents but they were reluctant to speak out, worried that this would jeopardise their chances of claiming for damages from the municipality.

A friend of a couple in the complex said they are furious and are accusing the municipality of sending inexperienced people to carry out repairs. He asked how the city can have a situation where Pietermaritzburg residents don’t trust their electricity department and would not want them to come anywhere near to do repairs.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma did not get back to The Witness by the time of going to press.

Ward councillor Glen MacArthur takes up the story, saying there was a problem with a fluctuating electricity supply at the complex on the Thursday and Friday before the incident.

“A guy at the municipal customer care section responded to me that they were aware of the problem, and it was being dealt with as we were speaking. When a resident later contacted them on the same number, a woman on the other end of the line appeared unaware of the problem, and gave her a new reference number,” MacArthur said.

“The problems continued into Saturday, and an electrician appeared to have been sent out again, and by Sunday morning a new electrician again appeared to try and deal with the problem. Shortly thereafter reports came pouring in of electrical appliances being blown in the complex, including big-screen TVs, kettles, microwaves and computers.”

MacArthur said he tried to get senior officials to inform residents of the problem and when he failed he personally went to the electricity department and got them to send out an electrician he met on site.

“This poor young woman, obviously a fairly new electrician, was faced with trying to rectify the morning electrician’s mess, under the eagle eye of the complex manager, residents and their private electrician who had been brought out to site to ascertain when it was safe for them to switch on their electrical supply again,” said MacArthur.

“I noticed numerous bits and pieces of burnt-out material come off the pole outside the complex as the municipal electrician tried to replace the burnt-out connections. I assumed that the damage had been as a direct result of the previous morning’s work conducted on that pole.”

As ward councillor, he will be advising the residents on who to contact and how to go about registering their claims for their damaged appliances.

MacArthur said he personally had not done an estimate of the damage.

“One of the residents estimated it to be well over R500 000, but I personally have no idea, it could be half of that and it could be double that,” he said.

Chota Motala traffic­ woes continue­

WITNESS Warriors continues to be inundated with calls and e-mails from disgruntled motorists on Chota Motala Road who say that they are still caught up in gridlock during peak traffic times and they are questioning why barriers have been placed on the road, closing one of the recently opened three lanes.

Resident Frank Hay summed up the frustrations of many of the complainants, asking what was going on in Chota Motala Road. There are always barriers on the road and the situation is back to square one. He questioned whether the whole exercise has been a waste of money.

Bradley Naidoo of Group Five explained about the the barriers, saying the construction company had been instructed by the designers and client to install a new overhead road sign gantry going into Pietemaritzburg from Northdale, hence the barriers and construction work in the area.

Naidoo said with the work being done, the concrete ­barriers had to be placed there due to health and safety requirements, and the safety of construction personal and the public. He said the traffic department had been notified about the strictures to the flow of traffic.

Hay, like other residents, is hoping that once the barriers are removed, there would be better robot co-ordination along this route and the huge speed bump near the Northway Mall that is generating complaints about damaged vehicle suspensions would be sorted out.

Illegal dumping still the bane of Msunduzi

THERE appears to be no good news this week. Illegal dumping in particular spots continues with impunity.

Lee-Ann Todd complains that illegal dumping on the Old Wartburg Road continues unabated and no sooner than the Msunduzi waste department clears it up, than dumping begins again, as it has done of late.

The cause of the problem is a nearby informal settlement. The municipality has plans in place to have a waste removal service operate in the informal settlements, but this is yet to be implemented.

The informal dump next to Northbury Park, which was cleared, has begun piling up again. This is on private land and the school feels the municipality should clear it up and charge the property owners double for clearing up the mess. They are also pleading with the owners to fence the property to prevent this vacant land from continuing to be used as a dump site.

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