The Guard

The Truth On Board

BCDA calls for Premier’s intervention

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Free State head of Cooperatives Governance and traditional affairs  department Mokete Duma  has committed to assist the Maluti-a-Phofung  municipal manager to fast track the taking over of electricity by Eskom

“A court order is the only thing delaying Eskom from taking over. But I will come back on Tuesday to guide  the municipal manager to draft a letter asking for permission from the minister to allow him to sign the contract which will later be approved by council. This is the only solution because even if we can buy many transformers we will still have problems because the grid is overloaded,” Duma said while addressing the  business people after they threatened to shut down their businesses if the issue of electricity is not resolved urgently.

 During the meeting which was attended by the Premier, MECs and heads of different departments the chairperson Business Community Development Association Nelson Moekoa shared their challenges and frustration while also suggesting possible solutions.

“It is very frustrating to be failing the people  we are leading. We see factories closing down due to electricity and that means more unemployment and poverty. The factories employ 90 person of women. We have called you here, Premier, to assist in finding a solution. We cannot continue like this.”

 Sharing his frustrations, Lulu Cao from Draken Paper, a paper manufacturing business in the industrial area said: “As a business that operates 24 hours it is very difficult for us to operate here. The power cuts have really crippled our business. The option of closing our doors in Qwaqwa is becoming more and more real.”

Noaman Hafiz added to Cao’s statement when he said: “Being in the textile industry it would be feasible for the municipality and Eskom to give us electricity during normal working hours from 07:00 to 17:00, but that is not the case. We are losing orders due to the inability to deliver to our clients because of these unpredictable power cuts. And people like Lulu are really bearing the most brunt because hers is a 24-hour operations kind of business.”

The most pressing issue during this meeting was around electricity, because business cannot go on as usual when the power cuts cripple businesses and disrupt productivity.

Lefa Ralethohloane, a community leader and member of BCDA, said Eskom has reduced MAP’s capacity in terms of the megawatts that it provides to the municipality.

“This issue of capacity reduction is a very simple thing to solve and does not require money; the municipality has to reach an agreement with Eskom so that they can restore the capacity that the municipality needs to function properly,” Ralethohloane said.

For his part, the executive mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung Gilbert Mokotso said: “The issue of electricity is not something that can be resolved within a week. It will take time and perhaps the end of August is when we will have a tangible solution because the council will be sitting during the first week of the month.”

In response, Ntombela appreciated the professionalism demonstrated by all parties in their common goal to find a way forward. She assured the residents that provincial government will always support the municipality despite being under a different political party.

“It is not true that we do not support this municipality because it is under Map 16. We are in government, and it is our duty to assist.”