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July 11, 2018

Komani | Current Municipal Updates

Dear Komani Members

This is a report on the current situation in the municipality. You will receive a report on this blog weekly as issues occur.

Service delivery protest has been our entertainment over the last 3 weeks which also included the burning down of a community hall, school and EPWP centre in the communities. It might sound as if the community is just being petty and not understanding the value of what they have, however, a closer look at what they have to go through might shed some light on their frustrations (please note I am not condoning their behaviours at all).

In January we had both our main substations hit by lightning and our transformers were blown. After that, no maintenance or replacements were done and only one of the transformers were fixed. The town was struggling on almost a weekly basis after that with either cables or subs blowing and affecting most of the Business areas.

June has been a crazy month:

5th June – a breaker in the Queens Industria tripping the transformer in Ebden Street, providing a total blackout of 12 hours to the town.

6th June – the transformer in Ebden came on for 20 minutes and exploded bringing the town to total darkness for 23 hours. This would have been longer but a team was called from EL to assist. They also requested parts from Buffalo City metro to fix the issue. They used the new transformer that has been standing for the last 3 years and this was electrified for the first time in 3 years.

15 June – the breaker in Ezibeleni went again and assured 45% of the town without electricity for 3 days. Although the District Municipality made provision for water through generators it seems like this is only being used if the whole town is affected because the 45% was not provided with water for the entire duration of their electricity failure.

27 June – the transformer in the Queens Industria blacked out with no reason provided and left the factory areas without electricity for 6 hours. Sporadic bursts of electricity followed for 2 days after that.

29 June – the transformer blacked out for no reason and it shut down 80% of the town. 4 Hours later 40% of the 80% has been restored and 8 hours later another 10%. The rest came on 17 hours later.

30 June – Queen Industria, Aloe Vale, New vale, Ezibeleni Zone 1 and 4 were switched off due to low voltage and have been off until today with no communication from the municipalities to these areas.

3 July – The transformer in Wainwright Street burnt out affecting 6 streets including the Private Hospital and the Casino. This has not been restored as yet and the areas are also left without water.

These are all the issues we struggle with on a daily basis that no one budgeted for and that leaves business and the people they employ in total frustration.  This is only on electricity and not on all the other infrastructure issues which is also in a state of emergency.

So what has the Chamber done to assist with this debacle? The January crisis had the local office running to the site every day, 6 times daily to provide updates via Whatsapp and Facebook platforms to ensure current information was being given. This ran for 5 days nonstop with some updates being given as early as 2am in the morning.

Executive Director (Les Holbrook) was informing platforms such as ECSECC of the current situation in Queenstown and made personal contact with the Premier’s office. This followed by the Director, the then Chairman (Adré Bartis) and a member of Chamber (Ken Clark) to attend 4 meetings with the Premier, MEC of COGTA, ECSECC, Provincial Treasury, the Local and District Municipality.  The Director had ongoing contact it ECSESS and COGTA and the local Chair had to sit in on meetings at the Local Municipal level. This also meant attending each Council meeting to ensure that all necessary information was received  to assist with the intervention. Another meeting was attended by Ken and Adré to try and stop the auction that was held because of a R44m debt incurred for a community hall that was built in Sterkstroom but this was unfortunately out of their hands as the final decision lay with the MM of EMLM. Adré also met with a team where the MEC of COGTA was providing an update of the issues and what they as COGTA will be committing too.

Communication has come from the Chamber Komani office for all instances and the various platforms were used again. The journalists were also kept up to date to inform their various platforms. The Chamber office being the centre of communication has almost become a norm to a point that people will only contact the administrator for information and not the Municipality. It helps when they know that we will be on site with the technicians to understand what the actual issues are to report on it accurately.  To a point that the administrator’s personal Facebook profile was used but this has now been fixed and the Chamber page is used as the main source. Any urgent matters also goes through Twitter, Linkedin and twitter. A blog on the Chamber Website has also been developed to host Komani specific information.

Fixing the issues at hand is not going to be an easy overnight task, especially when you have the 2 municipalities not really communicating with each other and electrical issues alone sitting on R100m before we can see any transformation in this town. EMLM has Komani, Sterkstroom, Ilinge, Lesseyton, Molteno, Tarkastad, Hoffmeyer, Tsolwana game reserve and all the rural areas to service. Currently ,they have 4 bakkies, 1 truck and 1 Cherry Picker to do the work in all these areas. This is for the technical department only. Unless they get a big cash injection and teams to support all the departments, we will be sitting with this problem for a while. But not all is dark, we continue to fight and get to work with everyone that is willing to assist this Municipality where we are and always have been willing to roll our sleeves up.

Adré Bartis
Administrator – Komani