FILE PHOTO: A man uses candle light during load shedding in Embo
Johannesburg - City of Ekurhuleni residents are up in arms over frequent power cuts as the city seemingly struggles to keep the lights on.

Areas including Phomola, Thokoza and Phola Park have suffered frequent outages since the start of winter, much to the anger of residents who say the city has not bothered to inform them of what is going on.

Residents resorted to burning tyres and destroying traffic lights after repeatedly being left in the dark for several hours.

Mpho Selatodi from Phola Park said she lost all the meat bought to last an entire month in two days because her fridge wasn’t working because of the cuts.

“I am unemployed and rely on a grant. These power cuts mean that I cannot cook or bathe children and the meat I bought for the month was gone in a space of two days,” she said, slamming the city for not caring for its residents.

“Our government doesn’t care about us. We are not animals - they can’t just do as they please with us. At least they must inform us that they are taking away electricity at what time so we can prepare before that,” she said.

The city blamed the outages on illegal connections and tampering with electrical equipment.

“Demand for electricity is much higher during winter as compared to the rest of the year. The high loads registered at our substations can also be attributed to high levels of illegal connections as well as tampering on the electrical network,” city spokesperson Themba Gadebe said.

Residents likened the power situaion to the recent load shedding which almost brought the country to its knees.

“Whether it is load shedding or just power problems we don’t know - we just rely on authorities because we have no explanation. Unfortunately, this is just the kind of arrogance that we have to deal with,” said Sam Mbele, a part-time hawker who sells toiletries.

Gadebe denied accusations that the city had not been communicating with residents, saying it informed ward councillors, members of mayoral councils, and call centres of outages via WhatsApp, SMS, telephone and email.

Sarah Motloung, 56, a vetkoek vendor, said she lost a lot of business and was negatively impacted by the power cuts.

“When the electricity cuts started I thought maybe they were fixing something. I threw away dough because I couldn’t cook it or even save it. Now, I just make very little knead dough because the electricity supply is unreliable,” she said.

Gadebe said the Energy Department was attending to all complaints as quickly and efficiently as could safely be done.

Sunday Independent