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Solar street lights improve living conditions

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The 105 solar street light units that have been installed along Olifantshoek’s busiest main road and require minimal maintenance and zero running costs

LIGHTING THE WAY: The lives of the community of Olifantshoek have improved since the installation of solar street lights, as part of REISAs Solar Street Light Project. Picture: Supplied

RESIDENTS in Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape have reported a “significant living improvement” since the installation of solar street lights, while noting a drop in crime and better social and trade conditions.

Olifantshoek became the second community to benefit from Renewable Energy Investments South Africa (REISA)’s solar street light programme, an initiative that aims to improve community safety, security and social livelihoods for around 10 253 residents, in addition to taking advantage of environmentally friendly solar-powered technology.

The 105 solar street light units that have been installed along Olifantshoek’s busiest main road and require minimal maintenance and zero running costs.

“Our children can play until a bit later because it’s safer and we can see better. Community members can freely attend night vigils because the main road is safe to walk along during the evening time and school kids whose parents cannot afford electricity usually study or read under the street lights,” explained Majuba Selao, an Olifantshoek community leader.

“They (the community) now feel safer, enjoy more time outdoors in the evening and even benefit from improved trade for informal businesses, who can now keep their doors open for longer. The solar street lights have provided our society with much-needed lighting and communities such as Skerpdrai and Diepkloof have noted a significant improvement in the safety and well-being of their community members, with a sharp drop in the number of burglaries.”

The local police have also reported a decrease in crime within the areas that are near the solar street lights and that community members have become more safety conscious by choosing to walk along the well-lit main road at night.

“The project was proposed by the previous mayor of Gamagara Local Municipality, in the hope of reducing crime, motor accidents and most importantly to better the social livelihoods of the community at large.

“It is REISA’s deliberate strategy to, where appropriate, partner with local authorities and stakeholders to ensure alignment of REISA’s interventions with local priorities,” Veronique Isaacs, regional community operations manager for REISA, said.

In 2015, the Dibeng community were the first beneficiaries of REISA’s solar street light programme, which included the installation of 52 solar street lights covering over 2km of road.