GEORGE NEWS - A group of about 100 residents of Ward 9 in Thembalethu surprised authorities early on Tuesday morning when they had a silent protest march to the offices of the George Municipality in York Street to demand electricity.
The protesters started walking from Thembalethu at about 05:00 to demand that a new transformer be installed in their area after the existing one blew up on Sunday 28 April, leaving them without electricity. The protesters were from different areas in Zone 7 such as Dube, Telkom and Jwadini.
In addition to the "replacement" transformer, they also demanded a new transformer to serve the shack community of 248 people. They say they were promised a transformer last year.
Under the leadership of Mputhumi Gomoshe, their street committee accused the municipality of dragging their feet in solving their electricity problems. He said they have been struggling with electricity issues for some time. "We want a transformer. We have been promised a permanent solution to our electricity problems, however no one seems to care," he said. "We demand a new electricity transformer that can carry a heavy load. We have been without electricity for days now and imagine how difficult our daily lives are without electricity."
Gomoshe and his group refused to leave the municipal building until the municipal officials had addressed them.
The protesters were also upset because, they said, the municipality has failed to assist five families whose shacks burnt down three months ago. The families have not yet received building material to rebuild their shacks and have been forced to rent.
Acting Municipal Manager Walter Hendricks came out to address the protesters and requested them to select three individuals to represent them in a meeting by Tuesday next week to discuss the matter.Acting Director of Electrotechnical Services, Paul Gerber, explained that due process must be followed and that service providers are currently busy addressing the request. As part of the process, the Human Settlements services directorate is currently verifying the names that had been supplied for the structures that need electricity.
"George Municipality committed to some, if not all of the structures being electrified by 30 June," he said. "The Telkom Village area group has been requested to send three representatives to meet with me [Gerber] next week to discuss the way forward with regards to their electrification issues. With regards to the burnt shacks, Human Settlements does not have knowledge or a record of families waiting for building material. The affected persons who need assistance can phone the Human Settlements Services Directorate on 044 802 2029."
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