Illegal electricity connections continue to spread in the Bhongweni farm area near the East London Airport after Eskom “put a hold” on a multi-million rand electrification project.
It was revealed in a report tabled before the Buffalo City Metro council last month that Eskom had allocated R6.2-million for the Bhongweni electrification project, which was meant to cover 500 households.
No response to questions on the matter sent to Eskom’s Ntombekhaya Mafumbatha was received at the time of writing, apart from stating that the matter was under discussion between Eskom and BCM.
In the report, BCM head of infrastructure Nceba Ncunyana said the funds would instead be “channelled to Tshatshu” in the 2017-18 financial year.
Homeowners who live in the fancy houses built illegally on the farm continue to use illegal electricity connections.
In the report, Ncunyana also revealed there were a number of challenges that were linked to the electrification projects.
This included the appointment of contractors “due to supply chain management processes”.
He said incomplete housing projects, influx of people and community issues were among challenges causing delays in the projects.
Bhongweni area committee member Jabu Mangena said Eskom had left them “hanging” with no clear communication about when the project would commence again.
“They have not completed the project. As far as we know, they ran out of funds and they said they would consider the project in the next budget but they did not come back after electrifying some houses in 2016,” he said.
An R18.1-million budget was allocated by Eskom for the electrification of rural areas in BCM for the 2016-17 financial year.
Eskom allocated R750000 for the Ncerha Village 4 and 5 link line, and R4.3-million for 231 connections.
Tsholomnqa extensions had an allocation of R715310, Ncerha Village 7 and 8, with 200 connections, had a R3.8-million budget allocation, Ncerha Village 7 and 8 link line had a R1-million allocation and the Buffalo City infills types 1, 2, 3 and 4 was allocated R1.2-million.
Mafumbatha said Eskom connected 2364 new households at a cost of R31.1-million within BCM rural areas during the 2016-17 financial year.
BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the electrification of these areas was “vital to unlocking socio-economic spin offs” for locals and the city. — firstname.lastname@example.org