QwaQwa – Businesses and residents of the town of QwaQwa in the Free State province are growing frustrated after their troubled area was plunged into darkness again.
According to some residents who did not want to be named, the area has been in darkness for almost a month now.
This is while others claimed their sections have been in darkness for days and others still claim that has been the case for a week.
The QwaQwa area in eastern Free State falls under the financially troubled Maluti-A-Phofung Local Municipality, which has its headquarters in Harrismith.
The area is not new to this kind of crippling power crisis.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy, David Mabuza, have in the past visited it and promised solutions – yet nothing has happened.
Ramaphosa made his promises while he was campaigning for the ANC ahead of last year’s local government elections while Mabuza was specifically in the area to deal with its challenges.
“As we speak, the entire QwaQwa has no electricity. Besides the lightning, they have failed to restore power in the CBD. It’s been four weeks now,” one resident told IOL on Thursday.
NEWS: Reports coming out of the Free State province indicate that the troubled Qwaqwa near the Harrismith area has been without electricity for a week now. The area falling under Maluti-A-Phofung local municipality is not new to this kind of crippling power crisis. @IOL
— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) November 17, 2022
The mayor of the municipality, Gilbert Mokotso, did not respond to IOL when asked when power would be restored.
However, in a press statement which appears to imply that the power failure started only on Wednesday, Eskom said the blackout was caused by a storm and it was not in a position to immediately access the area to repair the damaged line.
“A broken conductor on Eskom’s Sorata-Witsieshoek 132kV line has led to a loss of supply to QwaQwa in the eastern Free State.
“This line feeds QwaQwa, Phuthaditjaba and Witsieshoek substations. The conductor broke during a storm in the early hours of Wednesday, 16 November, 2022,” Eskom said.
Decrying the power challenge in QwaQwa, Cosatu in the Free State said according to its understanding, this has been the case for the past three days.
“Facilities without power include the two hospitals, clinics, police stations, factories, malls, shopping complexes, business premises and the general households.
“It is dreadful that the three tiers of the state being national, provincial and local are resting on their laurels and have allowed the situation to reach this level despite being purportedly engaged in a process to ensure reliable supply of electricity to the area.
“More appalling is how the town has arrived at zero electricity supply under the watch of these officials, who clearly have no regard for the upkeep of the residents and QwaQwa’s economic growth,” it said.
It condemned the blackout.
“We condemn the blackout with the strongest possible terms, and we would like to remind all who have been given the power to govern through the ballot that the term of office has a time frame!
“Incidents of poor service delivery such as this will make it even harder to garner enough support in the next elections.
“As Cosatu Free State we detest that the residents of QwaQwa have been subjected to so much undue suffering and pain.
“They are deprived of electricity supply for days on end, threatening the current minimal employment rate.
“We will continue our battle at platforms such as Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour Council) and pursue other legal means to ensure that we hold government accountable, and that reliable electricity is provided to our members and the community at large,” the labour federation said.