Municipalities incurred about R1.1 billion in overtime payments and spent R1.6bn to fix infrastructure damaged or stolen during load shedding.
These are some of the findings contained in an assessment conducted by the SA Local Government Association (Salga) into the impact of load shedding on municipalities.
The findings were referenced by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Thembi Nkadimeng in her response to parliamentary questions from DA MP Jacobus Frederik Smalle.
Smalle had asked whether Cogta undertook any assessment of the cost incurred by municipalities for electrical and water infrastructure damage as a direct impact of load shedding.
He also asked for the reasons municipalities failed to protect their assets as required by legislation, and the assistance Cogta gave to the municipalities.
In her response, Nkadimeng said her department had not undertaken any assessment of the cost incurred by local municipalities for electrical and water infrastructure damage due to load shedding.
She said Salga undertook an assessment of all municipalities in March to quantify municipal expenditure and revenue losses as a result of load shedding.
“According to Salga, all 257 municipalities in the country were contacted to participate in this assessment.
“However, only 89 municipalities across the country responded, with 75 of them being water service authorities and 79 being licensed municipal distributors.”
The assessment, said Nkadimeng, found that the frequency and intensity of cable theft and vandalism of infrastructure during load shedding was so high that 12% of the surveyed municipalities recorded over 100 incidents per day per load shedding period.
“The overall cost for fixing damaged and stolen municipal infrastructure and equipment during load shedding amounts to R1.6bn over the 89 municipalities for 2022/23 financial year. The cost to fix damaged waste-water treatment works and to procure back-up generators and diesel across the 89 municipalities was R1 406 445 056,” she said.
“Municipalities were incurring R1 107 583 200 per annum on staff overtime and contractors due to repairing electrical infrastructure, in addition to the normal cost budgeted for the overtime and service providers.”
Nkadimeng ascribed the failure to governance, institutional and financial challenges as they all contributed to service delivery challenges.
She also said there was lack of sufficient technical capacity to develop and implement operations and maintenance plans that included protection of the assets.
The Department of Co-operative Governance, through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (Misa), has deployed built environment professionals to provide technical support to municipalities for infrastructure development, including protecting the assets during load shedding.
Nkadimeng also said Misa technical support personnel were further supporting municipalities to implement the Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management measures through funding administered by the Department of Minerals and Energy.
The department has introduced reforms to the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) to include up to 5% of the allocation being allowed to fund activities related to the development of an infrastructure asset management plan.
“Through the MIG grant municipalities can implement solar high mast lights which improve security during load shedding with the support of Misa technical support personnel.”