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Power for the people

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Elated community members said that the electricity would also help to lighten the burden on their pockets

JUBILATION: More than 350 households in Gong Gong near Barkly West recently received electricity for the first time through the persistance of two women who took on Eskom in a battle that lasted more than two years. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE BATTLE by two community leaders, which started over two years ago, finally paid off when more than 350 houses in Gong Gong received electricity.

The two community leaders, Maureen Mgoma and Christene Scheepers, said that their hard work was finally rewarded when Eskom approved their application to have the area electrified.

Eskom provided 359 houses in the area, situated outside Barkly West, with electricity on Friday.

“We filed an application to Eskom requesting them to provide us with electricity in April 2016. We sent numerous letters to them and patiently awaited a response from them. Since we did not have any electricity to print or fax the letters, we had to make use of the resources at GM Presley Primary School which is located five kilometres from where we stay. We had to walk the distance weekly in order to send letters or for feedback from Eskom,” said Mgoma.

She added that they kept the community up to date with their efforts.

“We held several community meetings to keep people updated on the proceedings. They were happy that we had taken the initiative and also waited with bated breath for any feedback from Eskom.”

The two women indicated that the process was far from smooth sailing.

“People were fired up and happy when the process started but some, however, became weary as the months passed and we received no feedback from Eskom.

“Some even accused us of corruption when we asked for documentation such as copies of identity documents which we had to supply to the power provider.

“We, however, did not give up and pressed on with the process.” Scheepers said they were overwhelmed when they got the green light from Eskom in February last year.

“Our application was approved in February 2017. In July 2017 the work started. Eskom also provided 10 local community members with work on the project. We were elated as some people were able to put some food on the table and that in the end we would have electricity.

“This will also make the community appreciate the project more as some of their family members were directly involved in making this dream a reality,” said Scheepers.

Elated community members said that the electricity would also help to lighten the burden on their pockets.

“We will now save a lot money as we no longer have to buy paraffin, gas or petrol for those of us who are using generators. We buy electricity straight from Eskom and are provided with enough units for the amount of money we pay.

“Our children will also be safe as we do not have to worry about them starting fires inside our houses and shanties. Pupils will no longer have to study by candlelight.

“This will also eliminate the high crime rate because there were many robberies and rape incidents due to the darkness,” the community said.

A community member, Magdalene Roro, said that electricity theft would not be tolerated.

“We will call out people who are stealing electricity or those who are making illegal power connections. We waited very long to be provided with power. We will report those who want to take advantage of this project,” said Roro.

Mgoma and Scheepers said that their next goal is to get high-mast lights installed in the area.

“We have got electricity inside our homes now, which is very important, but we need lights for our streets. It is still dark outside and a high-mast light will assist people to see when walking at night. We are in the process of applying for that,” they said.