Let’s talk about load shedding . . . again

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Electricity cuts
Electricity cuts

In the previous edition of the Excelsior News, an article appeared about the Mkhondo Local Municipality’s internal load shedding schedule and since then, the situation has only become direr.

Since the article was published, another set of questions in which the MLM is once again asked for answers about the power crises in Mkhondo was sent to them but, at the time of publication they had yet to send a response.  

The following questions were asked:

  1. The Mkhondo Local Municipality draws up an internal load shedding schedule and shares it with the community on a daily basis but, it is unreliable and almost never followed. How can the residents of eMkhondo plan their day if they never know when they will be without electricity, despite having a schedule and why does the MLM not follow their own schedule?
  2. How does the MLM decide which sectors to switch off twice a day? Some areas are fortunate enough to go days without internal load shedding whilst others are sometimes without power for four hours daily. Do the areas that are turned off twice use a bigger load?
  3. Is Eskom refusing to give the MLM a bigger MVA because the municipality is struggling to pay their account on the 18 MVA that is currently “powering” eMkhondo and because the MLM still owes Eskom millions of rands?
  4. How much money is still owed to Eskom by the MLM?
  5. What is being done to pay Eskom and bring the account up to date?
  6. How much additional MVA will the new Woodhill Mall require once it is done and operational and how will it influence the internal load shedding schedule for the rest of the town (will load shedding be for longer and more often)?

It seems that every time they are asked, the MLM blames Eskom for the internal load shedding, because the Power Giant refuses to upgrade the town’s electrical load but, no businessman worth his/her salt would give a client more products on credit if they are allegedly not paying their account, so why should Eskom?

On Tuesday 8 June, the dairy company Clover allegedly announced that they will be closing South Africa’s largest cheese factory in Lichtenburg, North West, blaming “ongoing poor service delivery” by the local municipality. How long will it be before businesses in eMkhondo decide enough is enough and close their doors permanently or move to a town with better service delivery? Does the MLM not realise that these ridiculous power cuts are starting to affect not only the residents of the town but, also the business sector in a negative way?

Also on Tuesday, the MLM announced that all sectors will be scheduled for internal load shedding twice a day except during 13:00 and 15:00. They promised that they will only switch off the secondary sectors on the schedule if the load is too high and the maximum MVA is exceeded. They also claimed that they will again turn power back on for the secondary areas, if the load stabilizes. This means that most areas will not have electricity for four hours daily due to MLM internal load shedding and if there is also Eskom load shedding, for between six and nine hours per day. Absolutely ridiculous!

On Monday 7 June, Smith 1 was scheduled for load shedding between 09:00-11:00 and the power went off at the correct time but, was only switched back on at 11:35. On the same day, the sector was scheduled as a secondary area between 17:00 and 19:00 which means that they should only have had load shedding if the load was exceeded. Lo and behold, at 16:45 the MLM turned off their electricity and put it on again at 19:00. This area alone had 45 minutes of extra unscheduled load shedding and this is not an uncommon occurrence.

The residents of Piet Retief are sick and tired of having to deal with the “don’t care” attitudes of some municipal employees, which is absurd.

The community requests the Mkhondo Local Municipality to answer the questions above truthfully and make hast to tell the residents of eMkhondo exactly where they stand and what to expect in the future.