Highway doctor, traders clash over illegal power

A frustrated doctor operating at the Mdantsane Highway central business district is embroiled in a bitter illegal electricity connection fight with informal traders operating from shipping containers in front of her surgery.

POWERLESS: A doctor operating in Mdantsane CBD is fighting a losing battle with Izinyoka Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

General practitioner Dr Samantha Nadaraju, who has been operating her surgery in a building near the old Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) Highway Mall for more than 10 years, this week clashed with the traders over the illegal electricity connections.

She said despite calling the police and BCM officials to intervene, nothing was done to remove the deadly wires affecting her business across the street from where the traders operate.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch yesterday she said: “The police came and BCM workers also came yesterday but nothing was done about this crime.

“It was not the first time I had reported this. My concern is that these containers are escalating at high rate and that means more people will continue to connect electricity illegally from the box that supplies my surgery with power.”

Nadaraju said the new containers were being erected even on parking spaces.

“Over the last year the situation has become worse. Our roads have trenches. They have television sets, fridges, sewing machines and other electrical appliances they enjoy using for free at my expense,” Nadaraju said.

The irate doctor said her business had been affected by the unresolved crisis due to regular power cuts as equipment and computers now needed the support of a generator.

The traders did not dispute that they had illegally connected electricity.

However, they said the box did not belong to Nadaraju.

Hair stylist Somila Kumandi said: “Some of us have been operating in these containers even before the doctor got here and we also want electricity.

“The izinyoka problem is a national problem, we don’t have a choice but to steal electricity.

“Many people who were working inside the mall [Old Highway Mall] have lost their jobs and have moved out of the building and are now looking for a place to work by setting up these containers.

“It is also not nice for us because it means business will now be limited as there will be many of us here now, but what can we do? People need to work,” Kumandi said.

Another trader, Lilayo Bans, said one of the containers that had sparked complaints was on his site with a title deed, and no one had the right to tell him what to do on his site. “The new man [another trader] asked to rent from us and we allowed him.

“The police came on Monday and we explained this to them and they told the doctor to deal with what happened on her own site.

“The BCM officials also came and left without disconnecting the wires because they know this is a countrywide problem.

“If BCM would give us legal electricity we would accept and pay but until they give us that we will continue to connect illegally.

“We are trying to provide for our families here,” Bans said.

Despite Nadaraju and the traders confirming that the metro employees visited the area on Monday, BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the city’s revenue protection unit had no record of the report.

“In dealing with the problem in the long term, the solution would be for the city to provide a legal electricity supply to the containers.

“However, for this service to be rendered the customers must approach the electricity offices to apply for this process and pay for the services to be installed,” Ngwenya said — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

 

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