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More informal settlements in Joburg get electricity


More than 12 850 homes in four Johannesburg informal settlements have been electrified over the past financial year – and more are in line of being switched on in the coming months as the City of Johannesburg’s multimillion-rand electrification programme gathers pace.

The number of homes that have been provided with power over this period includes the 2 292 that were recently switched on under the Eskom Electrification Programme at the Protea South informal settlement in Soweto in the City’s Region D.

There are at present 181 informal settlements across Johannesburg with an estimated 180 000 households and a combined population exceeding 500 000. Statistics show that 10 000 migrants arrive in Johannesburg every month from various parts of the country and the rest of the continent to seek better economic opportunities, further exerting pressure on the City to provide basic services such as electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal, as well as housing, roads and other infrastructure.

According to Xolani Lembede, acting Engineering Director at City Power, the City’s electric utility, informal settlements account for 13% of power losses in Johannesburg as a result of illegal electricity connections. As part of a bigger picture to formalise informal settlements, the City has been installing independent power grids and using an energy hybrid mix of solar power and gas stoves at Setjwetla near Alexandra in Region E and Thembelihle and Lawley Station in Region G.

The number of households that have benefited from the electrification of the Setjwetla informal settlement, on the banks of Jukskei River, so far stands at 1 600 at cost of R30-million. A further 1 000 will be connected soon, bringing the total cost to about R60-million. At Thembelihle informal settlement, near Lenasia, 7 000 homes were switched on to prepaid electricity and hybrid power two months ago at a cost of more than R90-million.

At the Lawley Station informal settlement R79-million was spent on connecting 2 000 homes. This is over and above more than 10 Johannesburg human settlements – including Lehae, Lufhereng, Fleurhof, Tshepisong West, Devland Extension, Elias Motsoaledi Phase 1 and Narens Farm – that were connected to the grid over the past five years.

In his R54.8-billion 2016-2017 Budget Speech, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo announced that part of City Power’s capital budget of R3.9-billion would be used to “continue with the electrification of informal settlements”.

According to Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau, the electrification of informal settlements is aimed at achieving three main objectives: stop unnecessary electrocutions, restore people’s dignity and regularise power supply and prevent the loss of revenue caused by illegal connections.

Mayor Tau says that the massive electrification project will further ensure that residents of informal settlements harness, for the first time, the “transformative power” of electricity.

“[During] the winter season residents living in informal settlements often perish from devastating fires caused by hazardous cooking and heating appliances. We hope that the electrification project will ensure that communities are spared from these tragic incidents and will help reduce incidents of opportunistic crime that occurs under the cover of darkness,” the Mayor points out.

City Power MD Sicelo Xulu adds that the project will help to reduce illegal electricity connections and assist in preventing load-shedding.