Eskom said the infrastructure upgrades in Soweto were aimed at minimising the need for load shedding and to stop the debt of R4bn from increasing any further, the utility said on Friday.
Eskom acting CEO Brian Molefe apologised to the residents of Soweto for the inconvenience caused by the prolonged power outage last Friday.
The apology came after a protest march against power cuts in Soweto ended peacefully on Thursday afternoon, despite an earlier threat that a group would try to hijack proceedings.
“First and foremost, on behalf of Eskom, I would like to personally apologise for the inconvenience that most customers have had to endure due to load shedding and other technical failures,” said Molefe.
“Last Friday’s prolonged power outage in Soweto was caused by a combination of two unrelated factors, namely load shedding and some of our power distribution networks battling to cope with the huge electricity demand.
“We value our customers and commit to improve our turnaround times so that we can better serve all our five million customers around the country.”
Eskom said the infrastructure upgrades in Soweto were aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Assist in efficient utilisation of electricity
- Minimise the need for load shedding
- Reduce unnecessary unplanned power failures/outages (stable electricity supply)
- Assist customers to manage their electricity cost
- Reduce illegal connections and electricity theft (improved public safety)
- Stop the debt of R4bn from increasing any further
Small businesses suffering
Nkosana Mvelane from Pimville said ANC members decided to take action because small businesses were suffering in the area.
“We want answers from Eskom. We understand load shedding, but we feel like Soweto is taking the brunt of it,” Mvelane said.
“If we take action, people will see that the ANC is doing something.”
ANC regional secretary Dada Morero said: “It is our responsibility to take the concerns of the people back to the parastatal.”
“We are here because Eskom has disrespected us. We say there is nothing for us without us,” SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) official Oupa Radebe told dozens of the ANC members that had gathered at the Hector Peterson Square in Orlando.
Ready to find solutions
Molefe said it welcomed the “peaceful manner in which Sanco and the ANC Joburg Region articulated their concerns about the recent prolonged power outages in Soweto”.
“The demands clearly indicate that Sanco and its alliance partners are willing to work with us to find a lasting solution to the electricity issues that face the country.
“We welcome the fact that Sanco and its alliance partners would like us to roll out education and awareness campaigns about the benefits of prepaid meters, and that they would like us to provide prepaid meters to tenants who live in rented backrooms so that each tenant can pay according to their consumption,” said Molefe.