Local newsNewcastle Advertiser

Community addressed amid growing Eskom transformer challenges

A substantial maintenance backlog and an ageing infrastructure were highlighted as 'difficulties.'

Following the public outcry over faulty Eskom transformers in Madadeni, Osizweni and surrounding areas, Newcastle Mayor, Cllr Xolani Dube, called an emergency meeting to address residents.

The gathering, held at the Town Hall on June 7, brought together concerned locals in a bid to gain clarity on challenges faced by Eskom.

The meeting, according to the municipality, noted the implications Eskom’s difficulties have on the town’s energy security and overall economic development.

The municipality said the objective of the meeting ‘was to exhaust efficient strategies for Newcastle’s existing power challenges and to advance transparency and accountability standards for all parties involved.’

Eskom representative, Karel Frackers, presented the main factors that lead to transformer breakdowns, the majority of which were caused by ‘bad customer behaviour’ including making unauthorised connections and purchasing electricity tokens from unlicensed vendors.

Mayor Dube acknowledged the plight of indigent families who struggled to cope with electricity bills, which significantly increased Eskom’s revenue shortfalls.

He assured the meeting that the municipality was currently in negotiation talks with Eskom to reach an agreement on the best solutions for these households.

Taking advantage of the occasion, Mayor Dube also issued a strong warning to residents about tampering with their electrical metres, stressing the serious risks associated with transformer explosions and house fires.

“Although this issue is not directly under the municipality’s jurisdiction, we cannot ignore the plight of our residents. Although we do not condone the illegal connection of electricity, our significant mission to uplift, educate, and transform our communities compels us to act. We have taken it upon ourselves to work with our residents to find solutions to this matter, which deeply affects the community members,” he said.

A follow-up meeting was held during which Eskom provided further comments on restoring power to the affected communities while negotiating settlement and municipal intervention options.
Community representatives were also given the platform to ask questions and provide suggestions during a question and answer session.

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