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Gloomy outlook for Ekurhuleni’s electricity department

The metro said it has studied the contents of the report and is drafting its comments and response to be forwarded to Nersa in due course.

National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa) draft compliance audit report paints a bleak picture of Ekurhuleni’s electricity department, according to Mike Waters MP, DA Kempvale Constituency head.

In a statement he issued on February 8, Waters said Nersa’s draft compliance audit report into the state of the City’s electricity department has finally been released – two years since he requested an investigation into the City’s “excessively high” electricity outages.


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On the other hand, the metro acknowledged receipt of the draft report in December, saying they are drafting their comments and response to Nersa, which will be forwarded to them in due course.

However, when quizzed about the kind of outlook the contents of the report paint for the electricity department, the metro spokesperson, Zweli Dlamini, said the City will not be issuing any official comment on this matter until the whole process has been exhausted and Nersa issued a final report.

Yet the DA said based on the report in question, things look very bleak for the energy department.

“The metro’s electricity department is facing crippling staff shortages and an inadequate maintenance budget, which is all contributing to the increased rolling electricity outages across the City.

“While we await the final report, the reality of years of chronic staff shortages, lack of infrastructure maintenance and failure to replace ageing infrastructure have accumulated into a perfect storm that residents of Ekurhuleni are blatantly aware of: rolling and persistent blackouts,” said Waters in the statement.


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Waters stated that among the findings in the audit report are:
• Since the establishment of the metro, it’s electricity department has operated with a staff establishment of approximately 1 170 positions, despite the growth and development of the City’s electrification and increased importance of revenue enhancement.

• Pointed out the budget and expenditure for repairs and maintenance should adhere to the six per cent Nersa tariff guideline.

• Implementation of the maintenance plan must be accompanied by evidence and will be evaluated during the site inspections after the Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.

“It should be noted that only 890 posts are filled, while the structure demands that 1 600 positions be filled. This is a staff shortfall of 80 per cent.

“Furthermore, National Treasury requires eight per cent of the budget and expenditure for repairs and maintenance adhere to the six per cent Nersa tariff guideline, while the metro has only allocated 5.3 per cent before the R100-million reduction in the maintenance budget in December and a further R67-m in January,” explained Waters.

Waters said he has written to Nersa to inform the regulator that the metro has not only ignored their recommendation but has decided to reduce the scant maintenance budget further.

“The DA calls for the electricity affairs of the City to be ring-fenced from other activities of the municipality.

“There is no doubt that there is a crisis within the City electricity department, and one would expect mayor Mzwandile Masina and his coalition allies to be fixated with ensuring there is adequate workforce for the department to function optimally.
“It is not far-fetched to warn the mayor that if the network is not stabilised within the next few months, the grid will start collapsing. This should be the mayor’s number one priority, not jetting off to have tea with a former president.”

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