Keetmanshoop Municipality is set to take over the electricity supply function at the town as of November, but residents should not get too excited, as tariffs are set to remain the same.
Residents of the town have over the years pleaded with the municipality to take back the electricity supply function from Southern Electricity Company (SELCo), citing unaffordable tariffs, but their hopes for lower electricity tariffs have been dashed, as all indications are that the cost of electricity will not decrease.
According to the municipality’s public relations officer, Dawn Kruger, there will be no reduction in electricity tariffs, as the main purpose of the takeover is to assist the municipality to generate more income and not necessarily to bring relief to residents in the form of cheaper electricity.
“The municipality is taking over to increase its revenue, so for now it (prices) will be as it is,” she said. She further said while the municipality will continue with the current SELCo rates, any future tariff increase or decrease would depend on the national power supplier, NamPower.
The current SELCo rates are N$2.26 per kilowatt for prepaid electricity and N$2.20 per kilowatt for conventional post-paid electricity, which roughly translates to 18-20 units for N$50.
On the progress of the overall takeover, Kruger said the process is going well, with the final logistical touches being made to ensure a smooth transition. She said the municipality is ready to take over the function and has a logistical plan in place to facilitate the process.
She noted that all key changes affecting various stakeholders and residents would be communicated in due course. She further revealed that the municipality’s electricity department will be based in the same building SELCo currently operates from and all staff members working for SELCo will automatically become part of the municipality’s new electricity department.
Residents who spoke to New Era expressed disappointment that electricity tariffs will not decrease, despite the takeover, saying they had hoped the change would bring relief to residents, who are struggling to keep the lights on.
“We were hoping it will at least be lowered. Electricity is very expensive. Just imagine, you only get 18 units for 50 dollars,” complained Keetmanshoop resident Cecilia Swartbooi.
Another resident, Markus Hamukwaya, was of the opinion that it is pointless for the municipality to take over electricity supply if tariffs will not be reduced.
“What will be the difference between the municipality and SELCo? They will charge the same, so it’s just the bank accounts that have changed, but residents are still paying more,” he remarked.