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Eskom 'refuses' electricity to affected business

By unknown | Nov 06, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

Small businesses in Jabulani, Soweto, face a bleak Christmas because Eskom has reportedly refused to restore electricity to a business complex for more than two months now.

Eskom regional spokesman Nora Mmusi said power to the complex was disconnected after the electricity utility found that connections failed to comply with regulations.

Mmusi said Eskom disconnected its power supply in August because one of its contractors installed the wrong circuit-breaker.

"The complex is now waiting for the correct circuit breaker and we are attending to the problem," she said.

The tenants had also agreed to instal new electrical systems that match the upgraded supply and to pay certain costs for the improved system, she said.

But the tenants have incurred substantial financial losses because of what they call Eskom's "unilateral power disconnection" and want the utility to reimburse them.

Mmusi declined to state if Eskom was ready to reimburse the tenants.

The tenants claimed Eskom never told them why it had disconnected power to the complex. More than nine small businesses and a doctor's surgery are affected by the blackout.

The tenants said the problem started when a new tenant bought the supermarket in the complex and converted it into a butchery.

"Most of us started to suspect Eskom's move. Did Eskom want us to pay more to subsidise the butchery owner, who happens to be white?" asked business owner Jabulani Vilakazi.

Why upgrade now after we have been operating in the area since 1987?" asked another tenant.

They said their businesses faced ruin without electricity. Most customers visit the complex after 3pm when they return from work, but most shops close by 4pm because they cannot trade in the dark.

Chris Mhlongo, who owns the Shakara Bottle store, has closed up shop. His bottle store was broken into eight times since electricity was disconnected and this has cost him a fortune, he said.

In a desperate move to save his business, Mhlongo bought a generator but the cost of producing his own electricity has made the business unprofitable.

"I had to stop trading because I was losing money. Now I am trying to save my shop by installing burglar bars below the roof to make sure that thieves find it difficult to vandalise my shop," he said.

Internet cafe owner Chris Koatale said he visits his business every day in the hope that Eskom has restored the power, which he depends on to run his computer business.

But Koatale has continued paying other service providers though his business has shut down.


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