9-hour power cuts cripple tourism town

2015-05-12 16:13

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Graskop - Residents in Mpumalanga's tourism town, Graskop, have expressed anger and despair following power cuts that last up to nine hours in a day.

This follows power utility Eskom's threat to cut off electricity after the Thaba Chweu Municipality failed to pay Eskom more than R260m in outstanding payments.

"If our electricity is cut for nine hours every day, we will have to close our businesses. There will be no water or sewerage and we need these things to run our businesses. It will have a terrible negative impact on our lives," said resident Lesley Gibson, who owns a restaurant in the town.

Gibson and other residents recently held a protest demanding that the municipality work with Eskom to prevent the unbearable power cuts.

"On April 29 the power went off for more than 15 hours," he said.

Gibson said attempts to meet municipal officials failed several times until they met with Thaba Chweu executive Mayor Michael Ncongwane on May 4.

"The mayor said that Eskom gave the municipality until June 5 to renegotiate the payment plan. So we asked if this has been done to which the mayor said 'yes’, but he could not deliver any proof. We need answers from the municipality because there is nothing in our town that can show how government is doing its job,” said Gibson.

Meanwhile, the residents have opened two criminal charges against Eskom and the municipality.

Graskop police spokesperson Rose Masilela confirmed that the case was open, but no one has been arrested. The police are investigating the matter.

Ncongwane told a News24 correspondent that the residents were to blame for an increase in the Eskom bill.

"People steal electricity and it costs the municipality almost R4m every month. Now they want to blame the municipality," said Ncongwane.

"I addressed the community about the problems the municipality is facing. We have entered into repayment negotiations with Eskom. People should start taking responsibility for their own actions and stop spreading lies about the mayor."

Read more on:    eskom  |  mbombela  |  protests  |  local government  |  load shedding

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