More than 200 families in Humansdorp received electricity for the first time this week.
Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen switched on the power to 247 sites at the informal settlement of Donkerhoek on Tuesday.
The project was completed at a cost of R6-million and included the installation of a new 2km-long underground main line.
Van Lingen said electrification was an important step towards eradicating informal areas and restoring the dignity of communities. “Electricity means much more than a light being switched on. It means the right to be able to do homework and study at night. It means a new opportunity to bring an end to poverty,” she said.
“To give the best possible service to our people in Donkerhoek, we had to formalise this informal area, so we surveyed plots and allocated specific sites to community members.”
She said the municipality had managed to secure a further R4-million with which the remaining sites at Donkerhoek, as well as plots at other informal areas, would be electrified.
Scores of Donkerhoek residents gathered to watch the Mayor switch on the power at the new transformer.
“It was an amazing event and ended up in spontaneous praise singing,” she said.
At the switch-on, Ward Councillor Freddy Campher said residents might now have to come up with a new name for the area.
“Donkerhoek means ‘dark corner’ and those days are now over,” he said to loud applause.
The switch-on was also attended by Member of Parliament Dr Malcolm Figg, who congratulated Kouga for not only bringing light to homes but putting food on communities’ tables as well.
“We are pleased that this project created much-needed jobs for the local community. Our government considers this measure a great relief, particularly during this period of credit downgrades and economic recession,” he said.
Community members Jody-Anne van Niekerk and Elizabeth Stompies, who have been living in Donkerhoek for more than ten years, said they were thrilled to have electricity for the first time.
“Crime has been a big concern for our area, especially at night. The switch-on will help keep criminals at bay and increase the safety of everyone who lives here,” said Van Niekerk.
Mayor Van Lingen said the Council was proud of the municipal team in the Electricity Department. “We thank them, our consulting engineers and the contractor for assisting us to bring change in Donkerhoek and in Kouga.”