Gatvol businesses in Joburg threaten rates revolt

 ·27 Feb 2024

Some businesses in Johannesburg are threatening to boycott electricity rates over deteriorating City Power infrastructure – which has resulted in an increasing number of unplanned power outages that have lasted days in some instances.

Speaking to eNCA, several businesses in Kya Sands in Randburg have cried foul over blown substations, cable theft, and other infrastructure challenges City Power faces.

The businesses noted these issues often result in days without power, and many plan on taking the power utility to court over the outages, while others are threatening to withhold their rate payments until action is taken.

Director of Vermaak Marshell Wellbeloved Inc., Micheal Wellbeloved, said through City Power, the municipality has failed in three critical aspects of its constitutional mandate:

  • Adequate municipal planning;
  • The regulation of building controls; and
  • The reticulation of electricity.

Wellbeloved added that one of the main objectives of the case is to reduce or pause load shedding in the area pending the outcome of the long-term solutions in the matter.

Several businesses operating in the area have threatened to withhold their electricity rate payments until an actionable plan to address the issues is put forward.

One business owner told eNCA that he hoped this action would be a wake-up call for City Power and motivate them to help find a solution.

“All they [City Power] have come back with is that it will take approximately R20 million to sort out the affected infrastructure,” he said.

In response to the looming rates revolt, City Power said it’s not threatened.

“As far as we [City Power] are concerned, businesses in Kya Sands have already boycotted the services of the City of Johannesburg,” said City Power spokesperson Issac Mangena.

Mangena noted that these businesses owe the city and the utility millions of rands and, because of this, the City Power can do little to help them.

“These businesses owe around R22 million in unpaid rates, and the current collection rate from these entities does not match the level of their demands,” he added.

It was reported last week that residents from Yeoville and Bellevue marched to City Power’s Doornfontein Depot, hoping to have their electricity restored.

In February, the community experienced multiple power outages outside of scheduled load shedding hours.

On Friday (16 February), City Power implemented emergency load rotation to alleviate the strain on the Bellevue substation.

Community member Dennis Webster said there had not been a day without an unplanned outage in Yeoville since the start of 2024.

“More than 100,000 people are essentially losing their food, [and] businesses are shutting down. You can’t imagine that residents in Sandton and those in the suburbs north of Johannesburg are being put through what Yeoville is going through.”

City Power has noted that overdue maintenance in areas affected by unplanned outages caused by faults and theft should begin in the next few days.

Read: End of load shedding not in sight

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