Category Archives: Charlene Ramjith

The Post: Illegal power cuts puts area in darkness – Sub-station bombed

Illegal power cuts puts area in darkness
Sub-station bombed

August 27, 2008 Edition 1


AN INTIMIDATING note, left behind after a sub-station, which generates electricity in Maynard Road, Sea Cow Lake, was blown up, has sparked fear among residents.

The note, according to the concerned community who believe those responsible for blowing up the sub-station were from a nearby informal settlement, stated: “If we cannot have electricity no one can”.

The incident occurred last Wednesday night and no arrests have been made. Municipal workers repaired the sub-station and restored electricity three days later, according to frustrated resident Roy Thakurdin, 57, a self-employed businessman, who complained they are “constantly in darkness” due to frequent and illegal power cuts by vandals.

When POST visited the area recently, residents complained they had witnessed informal settlers, who reside adjacent to Maynard Road, illegally dig the road to run electrical cables, so they could obtain electricity from light poles to the informal settlement.

Residents’ electricity cuts off at least four times a week, leaving them with minimum power of four hours per day.

“This problem started two years ago before the Eskom power cuts and has recently escalated to daily power cuts.

“As ratepayers we are entitled to electricity. I tried to contact the municipality and our ward councillor, but received no response. If the matter is not dealt with, residents are going to form a trust account via an attorney and deposit our money meant for rates into that account until the problem is resolved,” said Thakurdin.

Bimal Maharaj, 47, a Hindu priest of Maynard Road, said: “I am fed up! Two Sundays ago our electricity was interrupted four times. I tried to take the issue up with the city manager, Mike Sutcliffe, and our ward councillor, Rabi Gobind, but there has been no improvement.

“The squatters’ electricity problems are the municipality’s concern, not ours. We want our electricity to be connected all the time.”

A grade 12 pupil of Effingham Secondary School, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said: “Last Thursday night I was printing work off my computer for the next day’s moderation when the lights went out.

“I have been reduced to studying by candle light which is frustrating. I am concerned about my performance in the current trial examination.”

A Telkom quality officer, said: “The electricity issue has been raging for months.

“I sent several e-mails to the municipality but have received no response.

“If the municipality can provide water and sanitation for squatters, why can’t they provide us with electricity?”

A part-time 42-year-old teacher said: “I am cooking on a gas stove and simple tasks like preparing a meal has become difficult. The food in our refrigerator is often spoilt.”

The area’s ward councillor, Rabi Gobind, said he had raised the community’s electricity concerns with council. The matter was addressed by the Infrastructure Committee which requested an official investigation into the matter.

“Once the investigation is complete and we receive permission from council to contact the land owners, in which the informal settlers are currently occupying, we can request their permission to install temporary electricity boxes on their properties, which will provide power for the settlement.”

Govind, a resident of Effingham Heights, added: “This is a lengthy process and will take time.

“I am sympathetic towards the problems residents face and am trying to resolve the issues speedily.”

Sew Harilal, the deputy head of electricity sales and service at the eThekwini Municipality, said: “We have cleared out squatters alongside the Kenville area, where residents are experiencing similar illegal power cuts and, like Kenville, we are trying to introduce 24-hour security patrols in Sea Cow Lake. These security checks will help identify the culprits.”

Nathi Nkwanyana, a senior manager of Revenue Protection of the electricity department, said security checks in Sea Cow Lake would start this week.

“We have requested more teams to join the patrol so more areas can be covered,” said Nkwanyana.

“The council is trying to allocate land for housing for informal settlers, not only in Sea Cow Lake, but all areas that face similar problems.

“If these plans progress, we will introduce an electricity card system, known as a prepaid meter, which does not require any type of connection.”