Owners of businesses and infrastructure projects in Kimberley in the Northern Cape are frustrated over endless cable theft that leads to power cuts.
Many say they are severely affected by the rolling blackouts. The city has for years been plagued by cable theft often leading to the municipality’s failure to provide electricity. Many businesses say they are now battling to survive.
The Northern Cape Business Chamber and Commerce Industry say it is not cost-effective for businesses to rely on generators and other alternative sources of electricity.
The Chamber’s Bianca Botha says businesses in the city are battling to stay afloat as a result of electricity cuts.
“For businesses in Kimberley, it is a huge problem. Every business in Kimberley pays rates and taxes but we get nothing for that. We must implement generators so that we can operate during the day. Every second or third day we must put in diesel and that is costly and we do pay our rates and taxes but do not get any response from the Sol Plaatje Municipality on a way forward.”
Cable theft in the city also poses a threat to a social housing project, which is expected to build houses for low to middle-income households. CEO of the South Africa Swedish International Housing Company, Lungelo Hlangwana, says this poses huge challenges to the project.
“The theft of this bulk service infrastructure by a syndicate is actually impacting negatively because it means that every time you setup this infrastructure it is destructed, it is stolen and it is vandalised. The government needs to come back and reinvest and waste resources, which we know are very scarce.”
The Sol Plaatje Municipality says the ongoing vandalism of municipal infrastructure and cable theft is a great concern. Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie says they are doing all they can to prevent further damage.
“We’ve had special operations together with the police we’ve used technology to even monitor those areas. What we are facing is serious gangs of organised crime, we as a society must take a stand against vandalism of municipal property.”
Businesses in the city say they need an urgent solution to the problem as they battle to survive.