It’s been a tough four days for residents of Parys and Vredefort in Free State, who were without electricity and suffering water cuts while the municipality worked to raise the money to fulfill their promise to pay Eskom.
The municipality is one of Eskom’s worst debtors, which is why the utility company demanded an upfront payment.
Businesses, private households and residents of retirement homes and retirement homes were without electricity and water, but they are standing together, by themselves helping each other.
Clarissa Passeno, a manager at Sally Martin Park Methodist Home in Parys, said the past few days have been difficult. The home is home to 250 residents, some of whom are dependent.
“It’s been extremely tough, but the love and support of the community keeps us going. Although we have backup power, we became concerned as soon as we started having water issues. But our community came through and immediately offered to bring us water from their wells,” she told TimesLIVE.
The house has a hefty emergency power bill.
From Friday to Monday afternoon, they spent around R15,000 on fuel to keep their generators running.
“We can’t keep the elderly in the dark, so we had to do what we could had to do to make them comfortable,” she said.
Despite the challenges, Passeno said they have so far been able to run most of their essential services, including laundry and kitchen.
“It was a tough time for all of us. You can even see how exhausted and depressed the staff here are because when they leave here they come home to the same situation as in the community, worse for them is that they don’t have backup power,” she said.
Elize van Hosthuizen, owner of the bed and breakfast, told TimesLIVE it was difficult to meet the expectations of guests who were already checked in when the outage hit.
“A few things cannot be operated with emergency power, e.g. B. the kettles in the rooms. This has made so many of our guests unhappy when they couldn’t make a cup of coffee in their room.”
Although she has well water and backup electricity, she felt it was unfair that she didn’t have access to services for which they had already paid from the church.
“Why should we suffer when we’ve paid? I really wish we could do what other cities could do, by getting a third party to manage the community’s finances to ensure service providers like Eskom get paid on time,” she said.
Another Parys resident, Piet Voster, said: “At this point I wish we could get our electricity from Eskom because this municipality is failing us.
“We pay for our electricity and we are shocked that the community owes Eskom so much money,” he said.
On Monday, the utility announced it was working to restore power to the local community of Ngwathe and was expected to be restored by midnight. This after it received R1.1 million from the municipality.
“ The payment will be allocated to repairs needed to restore supplies to Parys and Vredefort in the Free State following an overload on Ngwathe’s electricity grid and damage to Eskom’s equipment on Friday 1 July,” Eskom said /p>
She had warned the municipality since 2018 that if the notified maximum demand (NMD) – the contracted amount of electricity that Eskom supplies to the municipality – would be continuously exceeded, the Eskom grid would be damaged and the municipality an upgrade of their NMD.
Eskom said in August 2021 and informed the municipality in April 2022 that damage to the grid caused by the municipality’s negligence would be at the municipality’s expense.
< p>“The municipality agreed to this condition and although informed u nd aware of the risks, they have not taken the necessary precautions… Eskom is pleased to confirm t Having payment [of R1.1m] finally received [for] the effort to upgrade their NMD.
“Based on damage estimates, supplies should be restored to Ngwathe by midnight tonight [Monday]].
“Today’s repairs will focus on the hot links and will be temporary to avoid the to help communities. Another outage is planned to repair the transformer bushings, which were also damaged during the overload incident. Details of this planned outage will be shared with the municipality.”
Ngwathe Municipality’s overdue debts totaled R1.89 billion at the end of June 2022, according to Eskom. “This debt continues to grow as checking accounts are not paid in full. Ngwathe’s failure to meet payment terms and negligence in protecting the electricity grid is jeopardizing Eskom’s financial sustainability as well as the security of supply for residents in towns such as Parys and Vredefort.”
Ngwathe’s supply will be restored to capacity in accordance with the contracted NMD
“Risks of congestion and consequent damage remain, and the community needs to invest in improving their care,” Eskom said.
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