South Durban residents were left without electricity for more than 24 hours, last week. Community members had to resort to using alternate forms of power such as burning candles as a source of light, burning fire wood and using gas stoves to cook food.
This in turn endangers their lives by causing indoor air pollution, their houses can be set alight and it impacts their health causing aliments such as asthma.
Nerissa Perumal, an environmental champion of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), who deals with environmental issues in the Merebank area, was among the people who contacted the eThekwini Department of Electricity to query what was happening and when the power would be turned back on but all calls were directed to an automated machine.
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“The following day, the power kept coming on for a few minutes and then would go off. The pattern lasted throughout the day and was the third power cut in Merebank in the last two months,” she said.
Noluthando Mbeje, environmental project officer of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) who is part of protests against increased power tariff charges, said, “It is ridiculous and sad that Eskom is asking for 19.9 percent tariff increase for 2018 yet the service delivery is declining.”
She added, “We need an energy system that will benefit everyone, a system that is not harmful to our health and environment, that will be affordable to all the citizens of this country. We need renewable energy. There should be notifications alerting residents of what is going on with Eskom so people do not panic and will be prepared to what to expect. People have the right to know what is going on with the electricity as it is not given to them for free. Decision makers do not take into consideration the poor and the marginalized.”