Mpumelelo Township blackout, illegal connections blamed

2017-07-12 06:01

RESIDENTS of Mpumelelo Township, Ward 18, woke up to an electricity­ blackout on Wednesday after a power outage had occurred earlier.

The power failure was preceded by intermittent power outages on the Tuesday evening with the supply being restored later that night.

Certain sections of the area had been, for most of Monday and Tuesday, facing difficulty with supply, with households receiving only low voltage power, not enough for appliances like stoves and fridges.

Last Friday, the area experienced a power cut for several hours, however, on Saturday and Sunday no disturbances to the electricity supply were experienced.

Simo Zungu, a resident in the area­, said the power outage had inconvenienced him.

“Waking up in the morning without any electricity was a challenge because it is winter and I had to use cold water, but my biggest concern was that if the electricity was not restored then food in the fridge might go to waste,” he said.

The ward councillor, Sindisiwe Gwala, said the power outage can in part be blamed on illegal connections and that some people do not pay for the service, claiming they cannot afford­ to because they are unemployed.

“The municipality has tried several times to fix the situation of illegal connections, but those who do connect illegally continue to do so,” she said.

Gwala said some residents are not willing to apply for the “indigent” customer provision from the municipality as they do not qualify, due to the fact that they may own too many appliances to fall into that category.

She said this and illegal connections is raised at almost all community­ meetings, the last one being in May.

Speaking to Echo yesterday, Gwala­ said work was being done at that very moment to restore the electricity supply in the area.

Following power failures in certain­ areas in Pietermaritzburg, which the municipality blamed on acts of sabotage after residents in some of these areas responded with protests to these electricity cuts, the municipality has since stated in a message by the mayor, Themba­ Njilo in local newspapers, that illegal connections are part of the problem of the reoccurring electricity blackouts.

“As the municipality we cannot run away from the fact there are illegal connections that are leading to a high, unexpected load,” the message read.

The municipality was contacted via email and phone for comment, but at the time of going to press no response had been received.

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