By Masilo Malakwane
TSHIAME – The local ailing economy has been exacerbated by the explosion of substation on December 22,causing panic among residents and business.
Already running a loss, factories have threatened to retrench employees if power is not restored. They say using petroleum-power generators is not optional as it is too costly.
Mohlophehi Moloi , a supervisor at NLG c apparel factory that has employed 100 people who feed more than 5000 are staring retrenchment in the face.
“We were supposed to have resumed to work on January 10 due to electricity outrage, we had to send workers back .If this problem persists we will have to release them for good and this will affect not only the employees but their dependents. I am here to meet the mayor of Maluti-A-Phofung.”
More than 12,000 families in greater Tshiame and Makgolokweng were forced to celebrate the festive season without electricity due to the explosion that have destroyed their power station.
ANC councillors whose wards have been severely affected by the power outages in Tshiame A, B, C, D and Makholokoeng area, say they are going to lodge a complaint with the office of the public protector to probe the incident at Tshiame substation.
In an interview with the Ward 1 Councillor, Mandlenkosi Dlamini said: “We are going to lodge a complaint and ask Public Protector’s office to conduct a thorough investigation into the explosion at the substation, because it is not the first time such incident happened especially in December time.”
The damage caused by the fire at the substation is estimated at R24 million. Even though the cause of the fire is not known, unconfirmed reports point to copper cable theft.
Dlamini accused the municipality of failing to find a lasting solution to the power problems.
“The temporary solution that the municipality and the contractor came up with, was not going to benefit this community as the transformer that was delivered, was significantly weaker than the destroyed one.”
Dlamini added that the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) has since agreed to provide its 40 MVA transformer as a more permanent solution to the power crisis.
DA councillor, Allison Oates said she was surprised to realise that the switch gear machine that was supposed to be used to restore the power had not yet arrived when she visited the site on Sunday.
However, Map member of mayoral committee (Mayco), responsible for infrastructure and electricity ,Shashapa Motaung told this publication that the municipality was weighing in options to bring an interim solution for electricity crisis in greater Tshiame and industrial areas.
“It also came to attention that the burning of the substation has many controversies elements surrounding it, as it usually happens during Christmas holidays.”
He said they will investigate the cause of that burning and will also look at suggestions of copper theft.
Meanwhile, a new substation is expected to be in place and operational by Friday this week.”
Another councillor from ward 22, Bafana Hlubi said the power outages during the Christmas holidays had a devastating effect on the greater Tshiame residents who had to celebrate the festivity with their families.
“This explosion had resulted in our residents losing money as they were forced to use alternative cooking methods while purchased food were wasted because they could not use refrigerator,” said Hlubi.
The DA Councillor, Allison Oates said she was caught by surprised to realize that the switch gear machine that was supposed to be used to restore the power had not yet arrived when she visited the site on Sunday. She said the municipal administration told her to not despair as they have got everything under control.
However, MAP Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for infrastructure and electricity, Shashapa Mataung told this publication that the municipality were weighing options to bring an interim solution for electricity crisis in greater Tshiame and the industrial areas.
“It also came to our attention that the burning of that substation has many controversial elements surrounding it, as it is usually happening during the Christmas holidays”. He said they will investigate the contents of that fire incident based on allegations of copper theft. It is however expected that the installation of the new substation to be completely done by at least Friday this week.”