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Residents block R31 over power outages

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Longlands residents blockaded the R31 rroad in protest against electricity interruptions

Traffic backed up on the R31 after Longlands residents blocked the road. Pictures: Supplied

LONGLANDS near Barkly West in the Northern Cape has experienced severe electricity interruptions during the past week, where the power supply to the entire town has been cut for up to 17 hours per day for days on end.

Residents staged a protest on Wednesday, where they barricaded the R31 with rocks and obstructed traffic.

They said on Thursday that they had been informed that if they suffered any damage to their electrical appliances or suffered any losses of perishable foodstuffs due to the power interruptions, they should claim from Eskom.

Dikgatlong independent councillor Mentley Bezuidenhout said that meetings were held with municipal officials before Christmas and that a complaint had been lodged with Eskom.

“A technician was supposed to come out and the power was restored sporadically throughout the week but was switched off again,” Bezuidenhout said on Thursday.

He added that Dikgatlong Local Municipality owes Eskom in excess of R100 million.

Eskom communication and stakeholder relations practitioner Patricia Tsepane said on Thursday that she was unaware of any meetings that were held before Christmas.

“The referenced fault was only reported on January 6. Our technicians went out to investigate the fault,” said Tsepane.

She explained that the reason for the power interruption was because a breaker that fed the electricity supply to Dikgatlong Municipality switched off automatically when the demand exceeded the notified maximum demand that it was contracted for. “In other words, Eskom can only provide the maximum supply exclusively retained for the municipality.”

Tsepane said that no payment agreement had been entered into with Dikgatlong Municipality yet.

She advised ratepayers to submit any claim for damages due to power outages to Dikgatlong Municipality.

Residents indicated that the power was restored yesterday.