KNYSNA NEWS - A resident of Dam-se-Bos who has been waiting for an electricity connection slates the municipality's failure to provide electricity to residents of the township as the main reason behind illegal connections.
Justin Olifant (32) says he paid an amount of R274 in January this year to Knysna Municipality, and was promised a connection within weeks. But that turned into months and regular trips to the municipality proved futile.
“I'm only told that the electrical connection to my house will be done in two weeks, but this promise has been going on for nearly six months now,” says Olifant, as he holds up a receipt from the municipality for the monies paid.
“I have a family in my home, and when it gets dark and my child gets hungry, how am I supposed to provide in a home without electricity?” he asks.
"People all around me, neighbours and other residents, are tired of waiting for the municipality for electrical connections and have resorted to just connecting their own wires to the municipal feed. Everyone does it, no one wants to wait for the municipality because we don't get service,” he says.
Several areas in Concordia feature spiralling wires hanging over trees and branches, running from municipal poles to private homes and street-side spaza shops. At some points, such as in Grey Street, the wires hang over the road, creating a dangerous hazard.
Olifant's sentiments are echoed by another resident, a spaza shop owner in White Location who identifies himself only as Sedge. He is originally from Brazzaville in Congo.
“I moved here about five years ago and soon realised that the municipality does not provide electricity to all residents. Neither do they want to address the problem of illegal connections. I had to move my shop because I can't come right with an electrical connection from the municipality,” he says.
Muni 'ignores illegal wiring'
A homeowner in the area, who does not want to be named, says it is clear to everyone that illegal connections are "ignored by the municipality".
“If you drive along these streets it's clear to see illegal connections everywhere. The municipality employees are well aware of it but they just drive past, because they know at least this way residents have access to electricity”, he says.
The frustrated Olifant says he feels helpless to improve the situation, and worried, because winter has started to settle and nights are were getting colder.
“I've paid and I've been patient, what more do they want? I just need electricity. Candles don't even last me the whole month,” he says.
'Muni not losing revenue'
When asked for comment, the municipality stated that they are aware of the illegal connections within the informal areas of Greater Knysna.
“These wiring connections are illegal in that they do not comply with the wiring code. The municipality is, however, not losing revenue as the owner of the electricity box pays for all the electricity used,” Knysna Municipality stated, adding that Law Enforcement teams have gone out to communities to remove the connections but that they are immediately reinstalled.
“Our Law Enforcement officials who stay in these communities have had their lives, families and homes threatened,” said the municipality.
They said they are not aware of any injuries or deaths caused by illegal connections.
'Several areas up for power'
“Council has made provision in the 2018/19 budget for electrification projects. Network preparation for the electrification of informal areas that include Blade Square, Bongani Valley, Endlovini, Tobolo 1 and Slanger Park will continue in the 2018/1019 financial year. These projects are planned to continue into the 2019/2020. The following projects are planned by our electrical department for the 2018/2019 fiscal year: The electrification for the housing programme will take place in Qolweni (Knysna) phase 2, Bloemfontein Phase 2 and Skool Gaatjie Phase 3.”
With regards to Olifant in Dam-se-Bos, the municipality stated that they cannot comment until they have the address and name of the resident in order to investigate the matter.
“The process of installing electricity in a home is that the resident makes an application to Customer Care (and pays the fee). Thereafter, a job card is sent to the electrical department to fit the supply. In terms of our approved service level standards, the supply is fitted within two weeks. The first requirement for the supply of electricity is that there must be an electricity network capable of supplying the connection. If there is no network no electricity connection can be made”.
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