Dilapidated kiosks lure idle hands

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GK CRONJE

24 May 2022

The slightest moisture, drizzle or rain results in leaving hundreds of residents without electricity at any given time.

Despite a ruckus made by political parties, warnings from NERSA and the slew of tampering, vandalism and damages suffered by Msukaligwa Local Municipality, waterproofing, safeguarding and maintaining the electrical kiosks and substations in Ermelo, Wesselton and the surrounding areas seems to be the last on the municipality’s agenda. The slightest moisture, drizzle or rain results in leaving hundreds of residents without electricity at any given time. Being a major inconvenience and that equipment and devices are damaged in the resulting electricity spikes, this is an issue which addressing is long overdue. Additionally, the sharp increase in wilful vandalism and alleged sabotage from unknown entities further aggravate the situation. The outages caused by the exposed innards of the kiosks, coupled with municipal load reduction and national load shedding, residents and businesses are left in utter frustration.

In reported incidents, neutral electrical wires were cut at various kiosks, the loose covers of the kiosks were carried away and presumably sold for scrap metal, long grass around kiosks were set alight, and in several instances, main switches were simply switched off, leaving ward upon ward in darkness. The ease of which kiosks and substations in Ermelo can be tampered with is nothing short of laughable, with the vast majority of electrical kiosks being without doors, lids or covers. Nary a kiosk is locked with a padlock as required by law, and many kiosks are completely devoid of cover doors. Several instances have been reported to MLM, where their own technicians have jerry-rigged kiosks or substations in unsafe and dangerous manners. The municipality has appealed to the public to report any suspicious persons near electrical infrastructures, and has stated that municipal employees are identified by overalls and reflector vest with the logo, and/or the name of the municipality. This statement from the municipality is contradictory, as many contractors employed by the municipality drive unmarked vehicles, and wear civilian clothing.

Furthermore, NERSA requires mini-substations and kiosks to be free of rust, and be locked as to be of no safety risk to the public. It is also expected by NERSA that municipalities keep substations and mini-substations painted, numbered and marked correctly, and that hazard signs be clearly displayed. Alas, this is not the case in Ermelo. While polictal strife ravages the inner workings of Msukaligwa Local Municipality, there is no bright light in the municipal tunnel ahead.