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Enoch Mgijima Municipality leaves Sterkstroom powerless

The people of Sterkstroom in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality have had no electricity since 20 March 2022, and the municipality has shown itself to be completely incapable of resolving the issue.

On 16 March, the transformer serving the town was vandalised, and all the oil was drained from it. A day later, municipal workers added just 200 litres of oil to the transformer, which requires 1200 litres of oil for proper insulation.

It is no surprise that the transformer blew on Monday, 20 March, leaving the town powerless.

The municipality blamed Eskom for the ensuing outage, but Eskom said it was a municipal issue.

Without first testing the transformer, or draining the contaminated oil from the damaged transformer, the municipality simply added a further 600 litres of oil, but this made no difference as the transformer had broken.

After that, a comedy of errors followed. Municipal officials acknowledged that they had neither a testing kit nor a transformer to replace the damaged one.

Eventually, they found a 5 MVA transformer that belonged to them, initially earmarked for use in Ezibeleni, but had been in Germiston for three years.

The municipality arranged to transport the transformer to Sterkstroom but then discovered the transport company was not on the municipal service provider database. The municipality will also have to make adjustments to accommodate a 5MVA transformer.

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“While the municipality staggers from one mistake to another, the people of Sterkstroom are suffering. Food is rotting in refrigerators that no longer work, businesses and schools are unable to function, and critical services have been disrupted.

All because a failed, ineffective municipality cannot even resolve the issue of a broken transformer,” said Jane Cowley from the Democratic Alliance.

“I will write to the EC MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Xolile Nqatha, and request that urgent steps be taken to resolve this issue so that the people of Sterkstroom can resume their lives with restored power.

Power outages in the DA-led Kouga Municipality receive immediate attention and are dealt with effectively so that lives and livelihoods are not disrupted.

This is because such breakages are effectively budgeted for, and the repair teams on the ground are capable.

They take pride in offering the best possible services to the people. Where the DA governs, we get things done,” added Cowley.

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