'Du Noon stopping legal power supply'

newspic4b208c3878a4e AFP Shocking: Plans to install electricity in several informal settlements in Du Noon are being delayed by residents. Photo: Sam Clark, Cape Argus

Plans to install electricity in several informal settlements in Du Noon are being delayed by the refusal of residents to move to a temporary relocation area (TRA).

But those living along Potsdam Road, often the scene of violent protests over the lack of services, said they had not been given enough information to make the move.

Yesterday, an Eskom team went on a site inspection to highlight the dangers posed by illegal connections. Joe van der Westhuizen, Eskom's capital programme manager for the Western and Northern Cape, said shacks would have to be moved away from the area if the utility was going to go ahead in providing electricity.

"Part of the road needs to be dug up so that we can lay our underground cables," Van der Westhuizen said.

Many of those who objected to being moved from the Ekhumphumleni informal settlement, which was not serviced by Eskom, said their livelihoods could possibly suffer if they were moved.

Mayor Dan Plato, who visited the area in October, said nothing could be guaranteed for those who would move into the TRA.

"We are willing to provide electricity (for the people of Du Noon), but for that to happen we can't satisfy the needs of individuals," Plato said.

In Ekhumphumleni thousands of illegal connections can be seen running above the roofs of homes, from the built-up section to the informal settlement and across the busy Potsdam Road to the unserviced Doornbach site.

Residents, on average, pay R60 to be connected to the illegal grid of wires and then pay a flat monthly fee of around R250 for the cost of electricity.

Initially, all the residents on serviced sites in the area had received electricity, but Eskom was not able to keep up as the community expanded.

Eskom had applied for, and received a grant of R150 million for electrification projects in the Western Cape.

Although he couldn't say how much revenue was lost due to illegal connections, Van der Westhuizen said the utility had spent R4m last year to deal with the problem in the Western Cape.


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