Over the past week, the electricity distribution network of the Inxuba Yethemba Local Municipality (IYLM) has been gradually collapsing.
The inability to provide a stable supply of electricity has compounded the residents’ suffering caused by Eskom’s rolling blackouts. Businesses are losing money while people are losing jobs and throwing away much needed food due to a lack of refrigeration.
I have written to the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Zolile Williams, and requested an electricity supply and distribution turnaround plan that outlines how he will ensure that Inxuba Yethemba avoids a total network collapse.
The electricity crisis has been exacerbated by insufficient budget, aging infrastructure, inadequate spare parts, a lack of correct electrical work tools, and dangerous working conditions for electricians.
In this municipality, electricity infrastructure is more than 60 years old, and the towns of Cradock and Middelburg are struggling with electricity distribution due to aging electrical substations, overhead lines, underground cables and exploding and malfunctioning electrical equipment.
Businesses in the Cradock industrial area have experienced power cuts of five consecutive days, causing lower production, higher input costs, and reduced income.
Residential areas such as Bergsig, Rusoord, and Michausdal are also subjected to regular power outages and sporadic electrical voltage surges that are damaging domestic household electrical equipment.
Recently, the residents of Michausdal experienced an electricity outage that lasted three days. Several farmers on the Swaarshoek road and Rooiwal area have been without electricity for five days. This extended outage is causing massive damage to their operations.
In Middelburg, the main receiving substation transformer has been decommissioned in order to replace it with a new one. Due to various delays from the municipality and Eskom, the town has been relying on a mobile generator for the past two months. This unreliable form of electricity provision cannot be allowed to continue.
MEC Williams can no longer sit back and allow this tragedy to unfold unabated. If the IYLM cannot do its job, he, Williams, must do it for them. He must ensure that the municipality speedily fixes the electricity distribution network.
The DA will not allow the ANC to bring further hardship to these towns that were once the thriving economic hub of the Karoo.