Vacancies behind outages

2017-06-06 14:12
Unfilled posts at City's electricity department are the problem for prolonged blackouts.

Unfilled posts at City's electricity department are the problem for prolonged blackouts. (Sourced)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The City’s electricity department is severely understaffed and this is the reason Pietermaritzburg residents have suffered prolonged power outages.

On Sunday, Sobantu, Mountain Rise, Eastwood, Glenwood, Hayfields, Scottsville, Pelham and Cinderella Park were left in the dark after a circuit breaker exploded at a substation inside the Meadow Feeds factory.

Other parts of the city, including Hilton, Northdale and Woodlands, have been plagued by frequent power outages.

A document presented at the executive council (Exco) last week reveals the shocking reasons behind the City’s inability to respond to electricity outages, including cable faults and damaged substations, timeously.

The unfilled posts continue to be a problem for the department despite a 2013 Msunduzi-approved organisational structure which stated that the department needed a staff complement of 731 employees to remain efficient.

Despite the organisational structure having been approved four years ago, The Witness can reveal that the City does not even have half of that staff complement.

The Infrastructure Services Business Unit monthly report, which was compiled on April 11, reveals that the department has:

498 vacant posts, a vacancy rate of 68,13%,

only 233 permanent staff, and

seven technicians on contract.

The document, which was compiled by general manager for infrastructure Sabatha Nomnganga, states that 38 of the unit’s employees are in acting positions. Instead of four senior managers, the unit has one and this is in an acting capacity.

The Witness previously reported on an explosive document compiled by Nomnganga, in which the City admitted the high vacancy rate was contributing to poor provision of electricity services and had led to the existing personnel having to carry the workload.

It is not clear whether Msunduzi has budgeted for these vacant posts in the upcoming financial year.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha did not respond to queries at the time of going to print.

DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said it had become clear that the high vacancy rate was the main reason behind the unreliability of the electricity supply.

“It now takes 48 hours for a fault to be responded to,” he said.

“According to the budget that was approved last week, employee-related costs account for 23% of operating expenditure against the 40% treasury guideline. Instead of reaching the ceiling [on salaries], the City is compromising service delivery.

“How is the City going to respond to these challenges [power outages] if it does not fill vacant posts?

“We are the second biggest city after Durban, our electricity should be reliable.”

Majola said Msunduzi should cut back on spending on luxuries such as cars for political heads and fix the problems in the electricity department.

He said the continued crisis in the electricity department was leading to material losses, which would push up tariff prices.

“That is basically shifting the burden to the consumers, which is anti-investment and will impact on businesses. It will also hit the poor who are already struggling,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.