Hilton residents furious at being left in dark for days

2016-03-29 11:01

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Pietermaritzburg - Fed up Hilton residents have lashed out at Msunduzi Municipality for backlogs in their electricity repairs.

Some residents say it took a week before Msunduzi came to fix the electricity following the freak storm that hit Pietermaritzburg a fortnight ago.

Hilton resident Barbara Niemand said the problem began after the storm left large sections of Hilton without electricity.

She said eventually when the supply was restored to the rest of Hilton, her home was left in darkness.

“I phoned the Electricity Department at 4 pm on Saturday [three days after the storm] and was told the electrician was on his way.

“I called again at 8 pm and was told the same thing,” she said.

“When I asked why it was taking more than four hours to get to Hilton, I was told that they only had one team and they were busy in Copesville.”

She said her electricity was only restored the following night at 11 pm.

Another Hilton resident, Dave Stewart, said after a storm last Tuesday a tree fell over an electricity line in Forest Lane, Hilton.

Stewart said he reported it the next morning before visiting the Havelock Road Electricity Department.

“I went to find out why they were taking so long and to explain to them the cause of the fault,” said Stewart.

“They [the Electricity Department] said they only had one repair team for the whole of Pietermaritzburg and would only be able to reach Forest Lane after 4 pm that day.”

He said he spotted 30 repair vehicles in the yard of the department and when he asked customer services about the cars, he was told 20 of the cars were not working.

He said electricity was “finally restored” two days later.

Electricity was restored to Forest Lane at 9 pm on March 24.

uMngeni DA caucus leader Pam Passmoor said the Hilton community had around 2 500 properties, which generate an income in the region of R2,5 million each month for Msunduzi.

“This is an area which pays for its electricity and once an account goes into 30 days [arrears] it is disconnected,” she said.

“It is a disgrace that these residents should have to beg for days on end for repairs to be done.

“This level of service delivery is an insult and residents are justifiably up in arms,” she said.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said Msunduzi did not have one team for the whole of Pietermaritzburg.

Rather it has teams, divided into units, to work on different sections such as street lights, underground cables and overhead wires.

“We have different teams for different sections, so one team will work on street lights while another works on overhead lines,” said Madonda.

“We can confirm that we do have a high staff vacancy rate but this is not only in the electricity section but across all sectors.

“Our teams are a bit stretched and when there are problems we attend to the highest priority issues first, especially when our teams are on standby.”

Madonda said the municipality would only be able to comment about the allegation concerning the 20 broken vehicles today.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  electricity

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