SELCo to cease operations in Keetmanshoop

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-Southern Electricity Company (SELCo) will finally cease operations at Keetmanshoop on June 30 after it ran afoul of residents here at the southern town.
SELCo had been responsible for electricity provision at the town since 2000, albeit amid controversies surrounding the contract signed with the municipality.

The residents of Keetmanshoop had repeatedly protested against SELCo’s tariffs and on several occasions petitioned the municipality to sever all ties with the company.

SELCo managing director Abraham Kukuri confirmed to New Era that all is set for a new company to take over the electricity supply function at the town by the end of this month, as June is the last month of operations for SELCo at Keetmanshoop.

Kukuri said despite back and forth negotiations over the takeover process, the agreement that the electricity supply function would revert to Keetmanshoop Municipality has been in existence for some time and was not reached recently.

“The agreement has been always that the network assets taken over at the inception of the agreement would revert back to the municipality, plus the upgrades made to the network assets,” he said.

Contrary to popular belief that SELCo was not willing to cease its operations at the town, the entity was ready to hand over all electricity supply functions to the municipality about three years ago, he said, noting that it was not SELCo that delayed the handover process.

Kukuri also denied that SELCo had asked the municipality to repay a loan of about N$10 million apparently owed to the company, before it would cease operations, saying this was untrue, as the loan had nothing to do with electricity supply.

“This is not correct, we have in fact been ready to hand over to the municipality as far back as 2014. It was therefore not SELCo delaying [the handover]. And secondly, the handover has nothing to do with the N$11.5 million [loan], so SELCo is going to hand back operations on 30 June 2017,” he confirmed.

He further explained that the issue of the N$11.5 million stems from a loan provided to the municipality over many years and was based on the simple principle that “one has to pay back what you have borrowed.”

This requirement could, therefore, not be seen as a condition set by SELCo that the loan be paid back before SELCo ceases operations.

Kukuri also revealed that about 30 workers would be retrenched in the process, but was quick to add that fortunately all the affected workers would be absorbed by the new company that takes over from SELCo.

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