Electricity blocks to be on hold over Christmas period

Buffalo City Metro ratepayers can expect relief from electricity blocking during the Christmas and New Year weeks following a city council resolution to “let people enjoy the holidays”.

BCM mayor Xola Pakati told the Daily Dispatch yesterday that he had instructed city manager Andile Sihlahla to send out a memo to communicate the moratorium, which will be in place over 16 days from December 20 to January 5.

This comes after ANC councillors pleaded with city bosses to give ratepayers a break during the entire month of December.

That plea was rejected.

ANC Ward 42 (NU1 and NU2) councillor Senduka Maphuka, addressing the council meeting two weeks ago, said: “We usually gave a leeway in December to ratepayers. Their electricity would not be blocked and then in January the blocking of electricity would start again. So I have that request because, as ward councillors, we are facing complaints about the blocking of electricity.”

ANC Ward 45 (Ilitha and Berlin) councillor Thozamile Norexe said his main concern was electricity for indigent people being blocked.

“We want that addressed, plus this blanket approach because, truthfully, in December, even if people are not indigents, they must not be blocked,” he said.

However, finance portfolio head councillor Nontsikelelo Peter said a moratorium for all of December would not be possible, as BCM had a credit policy in place.

Peter said she wanted a clear explanation on how a month-long moratorium would work “because on our credit policy we don’t have something like that.

“We know that around Christmas people have a lot of groceries , so maybe for Christmas we can say yes we don’t block, and the New Year we can say no, we won’t block, but after that what do we do?”

ANC councillor Crosby Kolela said: “Just let the people have access to electricity.

“We are not saying don’t pay. We are saying don’t block.

“Our reason is that from December 15 we are going on recess and I might not be around. So now the problem is we don’t want people saying they did not have access. Some people are not blocked because they owe too much. They are blocked because of wrong billing,” said Kolela.

An angry Maphuka lambasted the city bosses for initially not wanting to implement the moratorium. He said: “These complaints are not coming to you.

“We protect you, as the people on the ground.

“But now, when you are supposed to be helping us you don’t.”

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said late yesterday: “As we implement the outcomes of council, we wish to encourage people to pay their accounts and urge them to ensure that their bills are up to date.” — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

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