The Free State municipality Maluti-a-Phofung and Eskom are playing blame games while a large part of Qwaqwa goes a month without electricity.
The communities of Clubview, Mphatlalatsane, Phuthaditjhaba, Super, Naledi Mall, Thaka Bafutsana, Industrial area 1, 2 and 3 have been in the dark without electricity from Sunday, 18 November 2022.
The power cut out after a through fault occurred at the Eskom power station near the University of the Free State.
The community has resorted to lighting and heating their communities with other sources of energy such as gas, paraffin and coal.
There has been no indication given by Eskom as to when the power will be restored. Instead of addressing the problem, the power utility has claimed that the issue was never reported.
Eskom says the municipality has not yet spoken to them about the power outage. Eskom’s Titi Makhetha of communication and stakeholder management – central east cluster, said that “Eskom is awaiting the municipality to engage in restoration of supply.”
The municipality, meanwhile, says they did report the matter, and adds that they do not have control over the Eskom power stations.
On Tuesday, the municipality posted a notice on their facebook page that reads: “Eskom Hid SOC Ltd substation next to the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus is under repair. This is affecting power supply in the following areas. We have not received time indication from Eskom about restoration of power. We will update as soon as we get any information.”
Makhetha dismissed the statement from the municipality as false: “I have read what you sent to me and it is not true. We are not working there,” she said.
Thabo Kessah, the municipality’s communications manager, said they were surprised to learn that Eskom was not repairing the damage. He said they had reached out to them and even offered to help.
“Our manager has spoken to those people and they said they were waiting for the material from New Germany, so I am surprised. We have even offered them that part they were looking for. Our technicians are not allowed to enter that power station,” he said.
While the two institutions play this blame game, hundreds of community members remain unable to light their homes or cook hot meals.
Resident Mammoko Tsotetsi from Matsikeng said that she is struggling to function without power.
“We don’t know what we should do with this municipality, they don’t respect us. Our fridges are rotten but now they don’t think for us. We now have to go buy gas or paraffin to warm water and cook,” she said.
Pictured above: The Eskom power station near the University of the Free State, Qwaqwa campus
Image source: Tladi Moloi