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    Msunduzi gives new head of electricity areas of priority to fix city’s troubled power grid


    September 19, 2022 - Thami Magubane

     

      Durban - Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla has highlighted the critical areas they want the new head of electricity to focus on in order to stabilise the city’s troubled grid and ensure reliable supply of power.

      Council announced during the council meeting on Friday last week the return of Sabatha Nomnganga as the head of electricity.

      His return has not been widely welcomed as he left the municipality in 2018 under controversial circumstances. He left after reaching a financial settlement with the municipality following untested allegations of wrongdoing.

      The opposition parties have described his return as improper, but the council argued that Nomnganga was not blacklisted by the National Treasury and, as such, was eligible for employment by the municipality.

      During an interview with The Mercury this week, Thebolla said they had appointed Nomnganga as he was the best among the four that had applied, and he knew the challenges with the city’s grid and would, therefore, “hit the ground running”.

      “We took a decision to make the electricity a stand-alone entity, and one of the things we will be expecting Nomnganga to do is to build capacity within that electricity unit so as to reduce the reliance on the use of consultants,” said Thebolla.

      A few months ago, the municipality revealed that it wanted the electricity unit to be a standalone entity in order to ring-fence the funds generated by the unit so they could be reinvested in the maintenance of this infrastructure.

      “One of the reasons we appointed Nomnganga was that he was very familiar with the city’s grid. We want him to stabilise it, ensure that the city has reliable power supply so we can be able to attract investments,” he said.

      The state and maintenance of the electricity infrastructure had been a source of concern. Almost a year ago, the infrastructure failed, leaving residents without power for days.

      The municipality also signed a memorandum with Eskom whereby Eskom would help with ensuring that the infrastructure functions optimally.

      Anthony Waldhausen of Msunduzi Association of Residents, Ratepayers and Civics said the main issue that needed to be addressed was the ailing infrastructure.

      “We are experiencing major electricity outages on a daily basis, and they need to address this urgently. We are finding that there is a major tripping of electricity after load shedding. They need to upgrade and maintain all substations.

      “They would also need to ensure vacancies are filled immediately with skilled, qualified and experienced professionals,” he said.

      He, however, expressed concerns with Nomnganga’s appointment.

      “We doubtful that the new person is the right person as there are still questions about his suitability in light of his previous exit.”

      Melanie Veness of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business said the new head of electricity had an enormous task ahead of him to address the backlog in maintenance and to put in place measures to protect the infrastructure.

      “His ability to plan, prioritise critical projects, raise the relevant capital and implement quickly is paramount. He’ll need to work closely with the private sector to find creative, workable solutions to challenges especially the maintenance and replacement of ageing infrastructure, theft, vandalism and skills development.”

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