The Southern Electricity Company (SELCo) will continue to supply power to Keetmans-hoop until next year June, Keetmanshoop Municipality has resolved.
After confusion over who will carry on the electricity distribution operations at the town after SELCo’s 15-year contract came to an end in October, and with the municipality apparently unable to immediately take over the electricity supply function, as it wanted to, council on Monday decided to extend SELCo’s contract to June 2017.
The municipality’s chief executive officer, Desmond Basson, discussed the latest developments with regard to the operations of SELCo during a press conference here on Tuesday.
He said the municipal after consultation with key stakeholders had no option but to extend the contract until June 30 next year, so as to put all measures in place for a successful takeover.
He explained that the resolution taken by the council comes after engagement with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development and the Electricity Control Board, through which the municipality was advised to prepare to take over and it thus needed to devise an interim plan.
“The municipality will thus take over electricity supply as of the first of July 2017,” Basson noted.
Keetmanshoop Mayor Gaudentia Krohne said although the plan was for the municipality to resume electricity distribution this month, as promised to residents during community meetings, it is impossible to do this immediately and thus extending SELCo’s contract is the only sensible thing to do to ensure that there is an uninterrupted supply of power at the town.
She said during the deliberations with ECB, the town council was advised that consumers should not in any way be negatively affected in the course of the takeover negotiations.
“As a matter of urgency we, as responsible leaders, made this decision so that the electricity supply is not interrupted. What’s important is that the residents are not in darkness,” she said.
And while there is much frustration among residents – as demonstrated during a peaceful demonstration about two weeks ago – over SELCo’s tariffs, which are perceived as exorbitant and exploitative, the mayor also dashed residents’ hopes for lower tariffs once the municipality takes over. “The residents must understand that whether we take over today or tomorrow, the tariffs will remain the same,” she said.