Emalahleni municipality remains under severe pressure with the escalating cost of electricity consumption during these cold winter period. High demand not only escalate the bills but also in some areas overload the electrical infrastructure leading to high replacement costs. As a result Council introduced amongst others a Protective Load Reduction programme since Monday last week in all wards with high consumption but low payment rates.
The reduction will remain 4 hours a day, but time slots have been shifted to 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm. The load shedding is continuing and starting to pay dividends. However, the Executive Mayor, Cllr Lindiwe Ntshalintshali following a broad spectrum of approaches and after listening to the concerns of some of the affected communities, has reconsidered the time slots although remaining firm on the principle of load reduction.
As from Sunday the 6th of August the areas affected by load reductions will receive reprieve in that load shedding will no longer be affected on Sundays. Times during Monday to Saturdays will change to be 0700 to 0900 in the mornings and 1600 to 1800 in the afternoons. These changes are specifically aimed at assisting families and school children while still reducing demand and protecting the infrastructure. These new measures will be affected in all the areas as already published and will remain in place until the predetermined targets of reduction and payments have been reached.
The Executive Mayor will still further consult on the matter and will take it to the Mayoral Committee next week for support but in the interest of the community, administration has introduced the new time slots as from the 6th of August. Should there be any further changes made by the Mayoral Committee or Council, this will be communicated as soon as possible.
In turn, she pleaded with residents to pay for services and stop connecting themselves illegally on the power network. In cases where she spoke to residents there was a firm commitment that they would prioritise their municipal bills. only by working together and meeting obligations can a long term sustainable solution be reached. At a community meeting residents overwhelming supported this call and the revised load reduction times.
She also commented that on the 27th of July, during a meeting between Eskom management, the municipal administration and herself, good progress has been made and the basis for continued constructive engagements laid. There is close cooperation between ESKOM and the municipality on the matters affecting both institutions and the commitment from all to act in the best interest of the community and ESKOM. The municipality has requested ESKOM for support on a number of initiatives while it has reconfirmed its commitment to service its accounts within an understanding reached on that day.
It must however be noted that the need for everyone to use electricity responsibly and to service their accounts are now even higher than ever. If the municipality fails to receive sufficient income, it will make the honouring of the arrangements with ESKOM very difficult to attain. Therefore, with the more lenient times for load shedding, should transformers burn out as a result of overload, the municipality will not be replacing these until the community from that area has paid for the cost of such transformer. It should also be noted that the municipal staff working in some of these areas are still denied access on meter replacements and verifications as well as access to facilities. Should such problems continue, a much harder stance will have to be taken.