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NC town left dry and in the dark

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“Fortunately neighbours who had electricity stepped in and kept the perishables of those without power in their fridges and deep freezers.”

Photo: Jennifer Bruce

BARKLY West residents have been left fuming after both their electricity and water were cut for three days recently.

One irate resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, pointed out that she was “one of the lucky ones”.

“On Friday the electricity went out. When residents enquired about the reason for this, we were told by the Dikgatlong Municipality that a contractor would be sent out on Saturday to repair the problem. This in fact did happen. The contractor bypassed a couple of cables and my electricity was restored. However, some of the other residents were not so lucky and by Sunday their power had still not been restored,” she said.

She added that on Sunday a new contractor had to be appointed, leaving some of the residents without electricity for three days.

“Fortunately neighbours who had electricity stepped in and kept the perishables of those without power in their fridges and deep freezers.”

The resident also pointed out that sometimes they are without water for up to five days at a time.

“This is totally unacceptable and we demand answers,” she said.

The woman also indicated that refuse removal last took place in November 2018. “We put our bags out on our stipulated days but the bags just stay there unless we take it away ourselves and go and dump it.”

She said that residents had begun thinking of innovative ways to deal with the refuse problem. “Now when it is not collected, residents are going to dump it in front of the Dikgatlong Municipality’s offices.

“It is not something we really want to do, but we are left with no other option.”

Dikgatlong municipal manager, Kagiso Modise, said that over this particular weekend there was an unplanned interruption of electricity and water in the Barkly West area.

“The electricity was restored by municipal officials on Saturday at around midday, but not all the areas were restored with electricity. There was still part of town that remained in the dark and the municipality had to outsource the external service provider to detect and fix the problem,” Modise said.

He added that when the electricity outage extends over a lengthy period of time, it starts to affect the water supply as the purification plant is powered by electricity.

“A service provider was sourced on Saturday evening with the view of working with municipal officials overnight to restore power. This service provider did not pitch up and by the morning the municipality was forced to source another service provider who started working on the problem from Sunday morning and the power was reconnected late on Sunday.”

He added that it was important for the community to understand that some of the current infrastructure is old and the demand for services has increased.

“In the case of an extended water supply interruption the dam levels drop and when water supply is restored the supply is closed for the levels to rise so that when it is opened everyone gets water.

“That is why it takes time to restore water supply to consumers. This will only improve after the water infrastructure has been upgraded, which is unlikely to happen in the near future due to financial limitations.”

Modise said that the period it takes to restore water also depends on the nature of the maintenance work.

“Minor interruptions for an example are fixed whilst the levels are high and the supply is not affected.”

He added that the municipality had received a high volume of complaints regarding refuse collections.

“It has been resolved that when refuse collection trucks go out, prior arrangements will be made with ward councillors/ward committees to ensure that they monitor the performance of officials, service levels and community satisfaction levels with regard to the service to see if the service can’t improve.”