‘Verify and make ELM smart meter replacement report public’ – GTCoC

'Provincial Government must make the ELM report public and subject it to transparent scrutiny by a panel of business, community and expert stakeholders'


By Craig Kotze
An official ELM report on financial losses – now estimated at above R30 million – caused by its own disastrous smart meter replacement programme must be reviewed by relevant independent experts and made public, says organised business.
This was vital to restore a minimum of trust in ELM and the Provincial Government because those writing the report were directly involved in the ongoing smart meter crisis, says Klippies Kritzinger, CEO of the Golden Triangle Chamber of Commerce (GTCoC).
“Provincial Government must make the ELM report public and subject it to transparent scrutiny by a panel of business, community and expert stakeholders to determine its scope and veracity before formally accepting it.
“This is vital for accountability and oversight and also for public trust.
“The acting Municipal Manager, Mr Dithaba Oupa Nkoane, is clearly accountable for the meter replacement disaster, has also failed to produce acceptable Annual Financial statements for ELM and is reportedly linked to the R900 million irregular contract Comperio report.
“Yet he remains in office and has not yet been suspended on charges that should include gross negligence and dereliction of duty. How likely is it that he will report objectively on his own role?” asked Kritzinger.
Kritzinger earlier wrote letters to Executive Mayor Gift Moerane and Premier David Makhura demanding Nkoane’s suspension and investigation.
The smart meter replacement report – to be submitted at month-end – was demanded last month by Gauteng Province Finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko after massive community resistance and shambolic mismanagement of transitional and replacement aspects of the programme by Nkoane.
The abrupt termination of transitional arrangements with smart meter service provider BXCSA by Nkoane ignited massive community resistance to his plans to remove and replace more than 7000 smart meters with antiquated read-only meters.
Nkoane’s programme was described publicly by MEC Ralehoko as “clumsy mismanagement” and she laid blame squarely on him in his presence at a public meeting between the GTCoC and various levels of Government. Mayor Moerane apologised for the mismanagement of the programme in an open ELM Council meeting, contradicting a media statement by Nkoane blaming BXCSA for the crisis.
Ster/Vaalweekblad established BXCSA had in fact timeously warned both the public and municipality of an impending crisis but ELM took no action until after BXCSA ended its contract due to non-payment by ELM. Transitional arrangements subsequently made were abruptly ended by Nkoane without any form of communication or consultation with stakeholders.
Independent experts told Ster/Vaalweekblad that Nkoane’s hasty actions resulted in massive direct and indirect costs to ELM in revenue and a massive spike in illegal connections after smart meter clients could not access power.
An ELM spokesperson was approached for comment on the report but did not respond in time for this article, which will be updated after any such comment is received.

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