Pretoria - With the country’s bleak prospect of ending load shedding, the City of Tshwane wants to reduce its dependence on Eskom for bulk power supply by looking for alternative sources.
Executive Mayor Cilliers Brink announced a three-year plan by the city to cut down its dependence on the power utility’s supply of about 2 500 MW of electricity use.
Brink was delivering his maiden State of the Capital address at Tshwane House.
He said: “In the next three years, at least 1 000 MW must come from alternative sources, namely a combination of own generation and procurement from independent power producers.”
The energy task team appointed by the mayoral committee would devise a request for proposals to the market for the use of the Rooiwal power station.
The request for proposals, Brink said, would be followed by a public participation process and an agreement with private partners in the next year.
Brink’s predecessor, Randall Williams, was criticised for allegedly meddling into the municipal procurement processes involving the R26 billion unsolicited bid proposal for power generation made by a private company called Kratos Consortium.
He said mitigating and ending load shedding would be the city’s most important priority.
The city has to stabilise its electricity distribution network to reduce the number of electricity and other service outages suffered by residents, he said.
“In the draft budget for the 2023/24 financial year, we propose to allocate R1 billion for electricity and water infrastructure. As we improve our long-term planning ability and our capacity to source capital funding, this allocation will gradually improve in the coming years,” he said.
He mentioned that the R134 million Wapadrand refurbishment project was currently under way and progress was 40% towards completion.
“The project is scheduled to be commissioned during the 2024/25 financial year. On the refurbishment of Mooikloof substation, the site was handed over in February 2023, with control panels being ordered and factory acceptance tests being scheduled for May 2023,” he said.
Work has begun at the Pyramid and Kentron substations where the city expects to complete both projects during the 2024/25 financial year.
Brink said the city has submitted an application to Eskom for the planned new Refilwe substation to further build out supply in the area.
Other construction and refurbishment projects in the pipeline include the Rosslyn substation 132/11 kV 140MVA substation, new 132 kV 300/150 MVA power lines in Soshanguve and a 132/11 kV 40 MVA substation in Monavoni.
Brink’s speech was also devoted to addressing the findings made by the Auditor-General’s adverse audit opinion for the 2021/22 financial year incurred by the city.
The audit report, he said, came as a shock and that it was a wake-up call for the city.
“But for many residents, the audit finding confirmed their own experience of deteriorating service delivery and a sense that, like the country, the capital city was failing,” he said.
He attributed the adverse audit to misrepresentations of the city’s financial statements made by its former chief financial officer Umar Banda.
The Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant, which had been cited as a source of problem affecting quality of water in Hammanskraal, was “organically and mechanically overloaded”.
Brink reported that he discussed Rooiwal problems with Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, including recent tender irregularities and contractual malperformance leading to delays on the plant’s upgrading.
“The second phase and crucial upgrades at the plant will cost an estimated R2,5 billion,” Brink said.
Opposition parties in Tshwane have, however, poured cold water on the service delivery plans outlined by Brink.
EFF regional leader Obakeng Ramabodu cast doubt on a promise by Brink that the city intended to collect revenue of up to 93% from residents, saying it was not possible because they don’t have the capacity to do it.
He also criticised Brink for not saying anything about insourcing and formalisation of informal settlements in townships.
He questioned why the mayor was not implementing the same programme to fight against crime in the townships.
That was after Brink mentioned that he recently launched the Rosslyn Improvement District task team, which is a collaborative initiative between the Tshwane Metro Police Department and the capital city business chamber to fight crime through law-enforcement.
ANC caucus spokesperson, Joel Masilela, lamented the fact that the city has been struggling to deliver basic services such as attending timeously to the waste spillages, fixing potholes and clearing illegal dumps.
He said the ANC previously stated that the coalition government won’t be able to resolve the problems at Rooiwal and that it would take the national government to sort it out.
“The city has not been able to fund its capital projects and now they are looking at other funding,” he said.
He said the ANC also welcomed the city’s target of collecting revenue above 90% because it has always been the party’s stance.
“And this has always been our thought that if you are not able to collect revenue of at least a benchmark of 90% and above you are not going to be able to fund all the projects that the city will be demanding,” he said.