Residents belonging to the Hilton Ratepayers Association (HRA) have called an emergency meeting today (Wednesday) to discuss the possibility of purchasing power directly from Eskom.
“Cedara and some parts of Hilton from Golden Pond downwards are supplied directly by Eskom and never have issues with power outages,” said one resident. “We don’t see why we can’t have the same system.”
According to Colin Johnston of the Hilton Ratepayers’ Association, “The purpose is to find a way forward, and seek solutions, not to sit and bitch. We don’t want people saying how angry they are. We want ideas on how we can solve the problem constructively. Standing in the middle of the freeway and burning tyres is not constructive. There must be ways we can help Msunduzi Municipality to achieve objectives aligned with ours.”
Hilton and neighbouring Sweetwaters had their power restored on Sunday night – after two weeks, in some cases, and a week in others – of no electricity, after protesting council workers apparently sabotaged the City’s power supply to many areas. Parts of Mkondeni, Pelham, Scottsville, Winterskloof, parts of the CBD, Northdale and other areas were also affected.
Households and businesses throughout the region were hard hit by the outages.
Jenni Underwood, principal of Capulum College in Church Lane, said their matrics had been writing mid-year exams during this period, as had the rest of the high school. “The power failures severely curtailed our preparations with our matrics, and derailed the end of term processes for all of our learners.”
Jimmy and Jean Page, retirees in Winterskloof, said they had been forced to outlay several thousands for a generator, after a freezer full of food had gone bad and after the cold had become unbearable. “We were also very nervous at night in the dark, and worried about becoming victims of crime,” they said.
Sweetwaters mum of three Zanele Gumede lamented the fact that two of her children writing exams had to learn under candlelight.
“We thought the days of reading and learning with candles were long gone but today my children have learnt what we went through. For them they are not used to it and they found it hard to study. I just hope they did well in their examinations,” said Gumede.
Nicholas Thorne, hospital manager at Life Hilton Private Hospital said although the facility had comprehensive back-up infrastructure the impact on the community was a concern.
“Our hospital is in the fortunate position of having comprehensive back-up infrastructure, allowing the hospital to provide quality care for our patients during instances of supply infrastructure failure like these. The impact on the local community and business is a concern and we will be engaging with the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business to see whether we can constructively contribute to the resolution of these supply issues,” said Thorne.
Central Hilton ward councillor Craig Millar has demanded that residents affected be compensated for the outages.
“What we really want to know is how people are going to be compensated? Businesses face huge losses. Old age homes and elderly people who rely on electricity for their well-being have had to incur costs in hiring generators.
Who is going to compensate them for that? An apology once or twice can be accepted. But when an apology is repeated it rings hollow as if they just don’t care,” he said.