Bay electricity beneficiaries bemoan high power prices

A Nelson Mandela Bay municipal worker inspects electricity connections in Rolihlahla informal settlement in Missionavale.
A Nelson Mandela Bay municipal worker inspects electricity connections in Rolihlahla informal settlement in Missionavale.
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

After 10 years of demanding to be connected to the grid, many residents of Rolihlahla informal settlement in Missionvale got their wish — but some now say they cannot afford to buy electricity and may be forced to revert to illegal connections.

The residents have called on the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality to give indigent residents 250kWh of free electricity a month — up from the current subsidy of 70kWh.

They raised their concerns during a site visit to the Rolihlahla settlement on Tuesday by Bay electricity and energy political boss Luxolo Namette.

Namette visited settlements in the area to inspect the metro’s shack electrification project and to disconnect illegal connections.

About 850 shacks in the Rolihlahla settlement received electricity connections as part of the programme in the 2019/2020 financial year.

One of the beneficiaries is unemployed mother of three Nokuzola Sundu, who depends on a social grant.

Children can play safely and we are proud to have legal electricity after waiting 10 years
Nokuzola Sundu, resident

Sundu conceded that her life had changed after being connected to the grid but said she now spent R400 a month on electricity, which was unaffordable.

“I wish there was a way that the municipality could help us or charge us less.

"My main concern is that illegal connections will be active again if there are other people like me who cannot afford electricity,” Sundu said.

She said she had been on the grid for almost a year and her family’s quality of life had improved.

“We are able to use our stoves and we can charge our phones, our lives are safer because we are not constantly walking over live electricity wires.

“Children can play safely and we are proud to have legal electricity after waiting 10 years.”

Namette and his delegation did not find any illegal connections in Rolihlahla but officials said two poles had been tampered with.

Another beneficiary of the programme, Nonceba Nxakana, said more focus should be placed on creating jobs so residents would not have to rely on the government.

“We will not all afford to pay for electricity and that will cause people to go back to electricity theft.

"We have been saying that government must create work for us so that we can sustain ourselves and pay for our own electricity,” Nxakana said.

Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the subsidy would remain as it was because no discussions had taken place to have it increased.

Namette said anyone caught tampering with the municipality’s infrastructure would be fined R4,000 and appealed to the community to report any wrongdoing to the municipality.

Last week, he switched on the electricity supply to shacks in the Westville informal settlement, near KwaDwesi, and said work was already in progress in areas such as Motherwell and Ikamvelihle.

More than 4,000 shacks in the city are set to receive electricity connections in the current financial year as part of the electrification programme.

HeraldLIVE


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