Michele du Plessis
A Memorandum of Demands was recently handed over to Stanley Nyalungu, Acting Unit Manager TCLM Sabie, addressed to the Executive Mayor of TCLM, Fridah Nkadimeng. This was done peacefully, taking all the rules and regulations for public meetings into consideration.
In this memorandum the occupants residing in Simile Location in an informal settlement called Nkanini Area 1, the residents called for immediate termination of the Amp charge initiative. “We feel that our local municipality is taking us for granted and that the municipality is taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by initiating harsh programmes within our communities without conducting pre-consultative processes to the residents.”
They also call for the termination of the installation of new electric meter boxes. “The programme of the installation of new electric boxes is misdirected as we the members of the community feel it is focused on replacing old existing meter boxes. We also feel the initiative does not focus on developing the area of Sabie, as a lot of areas remain undeveloped and without proper infrastructures such as electricity and so forth.”
“Instead of replacing the already existing electric meter boxes, we request that the local municipality considers a question of redirecting the budget into the formalisation of all the informal settlements around Sabie, as this remains a priority to the people of Sabie.” The memorandum also refers to the illegal connections: “while those that are residing within the informal settlements are enjoying the luxury of having electricity in their homes by means of illegal connections.”
“As residents of Sabie, we, therefore, request that the old system of buying our electricity be re-instated. It currently remains the only system we can understand and relate to as we deem everything to be transparent in that system.”
The response to the Sabie Community Memorandum from the Mayor’s Office:
“It’s worthy to emphasise that the fixed charge in relation to Amp charge is a normal charge that previously used to be charged to community businesses only. In the 2018/2019 financial year, the municipality conducted a Cost of Supply Study which was submitted to NERSA. The cost of supply study revealed that the current tariffs for residential are below the cost being charged by Eskom, the Amp charge addresses these shortcomings. Which lead to Eskom account currently sitting at R760 million. It is prudent to mention that the referred new tariffs are compared to previous year introduced a capacity charge (Amp charge) for all consumers above 20 Amps, indigents will not be affected by this charge. This also grants an opportunity to households who are not consuming much electricity to reduce their Amp capacity to 20 Amps-40 Amps.”
Formalization of Informal Settlements
“The Department of Local Economic Development and Planning is currently on advanced stage with regard to the formalization of the informal settlement in Sabie Area. However, it should be noted that a phased approach is being used due to funding constraints and these take longer to finalize. Hereunder follows the progress made thus far:”
Harmony Hill Formalization: Funded by the Department of Human Settlement and the township establishment has been approved in 2019. Pegging is ongoing and anticipated to be completed in December 2020. Service has been applied for and will be installed thereafter.
Simile Area 3 Formalization: Internally funded by TCLM, the Township was approved and completed. Electrification was done and are awaiting approval from the Department of Human Settlement for the installation of water and sewer.
Simile Area 4 and 5 Formalization: Internally funded by TCLM; the Township layout and application was completed and submitted to the tribunal for approval. The tribunal requested additional information which was submitted. When they approve it, the pegging and the approval of the general plan will follow. The Technical and Engineering Services directorate is applying for funding for the installation of electrical infrastructure.
Termination of installation of new meter boxes: TCLM acknowledges the concern, but responds that it is only fair for the municipality to change from the old meters for the following reasons: To reduce electricity losses in Sabie and Simile; To ensure the municipality continues to pay Eskom monthly; That all households using electricity pays for it; To ensure enough funds to service and maintain electrical assets such as transformers and substations; To ensure electrical distribution efficiently.
Service Delivery improvement: TCLM complies with the legal prescripts governing service delivery and all planned programs are subjected to public participation. TCLM was prioritizing Sabie Ward 6 and 7 throughout the prior fiscal year and continues to do so solely to improve the state of service delivery, as well as continuing Township establishment of Phola Park and the electrification of households in Nkanini, water reticulation in Sabie Extension 10 and construction of CRU in Simile.
The Sabie Memorandum of Demands also stated the following: “Failure of the above-mentioned request might in many ways than one bring this holistic intervention by the community into dismay. Please take into consideration that electricity has become a basic need for survival, so the depth we will get into to ensure that our homes are electrified might be beyond your office.”
Information from the documents as presented by the Mayor and the Sabie Community.