Residents in uMngeni who are not direct Eskom customers will have to pay the municipality 17,8% more to keep the lights on.
The recommendation, which forms part of the municipality’s draft budget for the 2021/2022 financial year, has been criticised by the DA. Caucus leader Janis Holmes said: “Disappointingly, uMngeni will be passing the entire National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa)-approved 17,8% electricity tariff increase on to customers, who are already financially constrained from the devastating effects of Covid-19 lockdowns.”
uMngeni meanwhile hopes it can improve the amount of income it gets from supplying electricity by targeting illegal connections and people who don’t pay their accounts.
The mayor, councillor Sizwe Sokhela, said the municipality has lost millions of rands to electricity theft, which could have been channelled to tangible service delivery.
“We must lobby our communities to do the right thing even when no one is looking,” he added.
In March the municipality disconnected numerous residents in Howick and Mpophomeni, prompting many people to pay their accounts.
“We have adopted a no-negotiating approach on the payment of the outstanding amounts and the message has been clear,” Sokhela said.
uMngeni also hopes to address problems with the electricity network in Mpophomeni, which gets overloaded and causes blackouts. “Plans are afoot to address this challenge through external funding.
“Both the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy are being petitioned for funding for the implementation of this project,” the mayor said.
“We are also continuing with engagements with Msunduzi Municipality to ensure that the challenges faced by our ratepayers in Hilton are addressed … we are not resting on our laurels as the electricity woes faced by these residents negatively impact on the area’s economic sector and inconveniences the residents greatly.”
One of the suggestions made during talks with Msunduzi is to transfer electricity management to uMngeni.