By Libuseng Nyaka
QWAQWA – The Maluti-A-Phofung coalition government has embarked on a campaign to cut off illegal electricity connections in the municipality, with a view to improving both power supply and revenue collection.
Illegal electricity connections have been largely blamed for the municipality’s inflated Eskom debt as many people use electricity without paying for it. These connections also pose the danger of burning of houses and loss of lives since they are done by unqualified people.
In a media statement issued recently, MAP said a multi-departmental task force’s campaign to cut off illegal connections started at Tosi Street, Bochabela and Mabolela area on Wednesday last week.
“We have discovered that several student accommodation businesses have not been paying for their electricity consumption hence the focus on the above mentioned areas.
“We have managed to collect over R50 million in revenue money from the industrial and business areas in QwaQwa. Our credit control and debt management policy is clear on such matters, that is why we are cutting all illegal connections with immediate effect.”
Explaining the impact of illegal connections, the municipality pointed out that leaves a bulk of electricity unaccounted for.
“Our consumption amounts to R80-million a month but we only collect R32-million. This means the balance is consumed by those not in the system. This is the major reason why our debt is so high.”
The municipality added that it is in the process of installing smart metres in response to meter tampering – another way of using electricity without paying.
Meanwhile, the executive mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung Gilbert Mokotso has cautioned residents to expect similar scrutiny.
“After dealing with the Setsing complex and other shopping centres, we will visit your households. Please make sure you use this opportunity to put back the meter boxes that had been hidden under your beds and wardrobes.”
In an interview with QwaQwa Radio, the member of the mayoral committee responsible for infrastructure and electricity Shashapa Motaung, said the purpose of the introduction of smart meter box is to curb electricity fraud and ensure that everyone pays for the electricity they use.
He warned residents to be on the look-out for officials who solicit bribes when they find an open meter box, emphasising that households will not be fined.
“We are regularising our system and make sure we install smart meter box. But if after installing smart meter boxes residents revert to their old ways of tampering with the meters, there will be a penalty to pay.”
In another development, the Business and Community Development Association has called on both business owners and community member whose electricity accounts are in arrears to arrange a method of payment with the municipality.
“The leaders proposed that the 50 percent payment must be amended to meet the financial muscle of businesses and community members,” said BCDA in a media statement.
BCDA further called on its members and non-members to take advantage of this opportunity to ensure that Maluti-a-Phofung restores its former glory.