Eskom tackles illegal connections head on
Dangerous bare cable wires connected off the grid from the electricity
transformer, others strewn from electricity poles straight to the tiny RDP house or shack, while many aluminium cables zig zag the dusty street of Kanana.
These are stark realities one comes across when driving around in this poverty stricken area situated next to Orange Farm outside Johannesburg.
For most residents and small business owners in the area there is nothing wrong with these illegal power connections and dangerous cables criss crossing the streets. Its business as usual and life goes on. Even small kids playing in the street seemed to be well trained not to tramp on these life threatening cables.
One resident, Puleng Mofokeng, casually told this publication that they have no alternative. “We are forced to illegally connect. We need electricity to cook and watch television soapies and news or else we are left behind.” She unwittingly admitted that it was wrong. She seemed aware of the repercussions and seemed un perturbed.
This scenario was shown to the media entourage covering the launch of the Eskom National Safety Week that took part in this informal settlement.
Back to the story. The message from the power utility officials was loud and clear to the community who braved the unrelented scorching heat and attended the event. “We are here to heighten the safety week message and educate the residents. Many lives have been lost and injuries sustained due to these illegal connections. We cant fold our hands people must just exercise patients because we cannot connect everyone all at once,” said Victor Ramagaga, Eskom Corporate Affairs official.
Ramagaga also revealed that several interventions has been done in the past but the illegal connection problem still persist. But he stressed that this did not dumpen their spirits. We will continue to make sure that people are educated about the safe use of electricity.”
He pointed out that illegal connection is not a justification for sourcing electricity because it comes with a heavy price, citing that human life is lost as a result and a big loss to the company and the economy.
George Mokhele, Eskom’s Cutomer Relations Officer in the area said with tongue in cheek, “If you consume electricity illegally, Eskom will not assist you. He also told the residents to save electricity and make it a very important need in their lives.
“We are trying to avoid overloading and power interruptions . To achieve this goal people must be educated about the after effects of illegal connections and tampering with the utility’s infrastructure.”
At the end of the launch, Kanana residents were entertained with a theatre production tailor-made to educate and inform them about the safe use of electricity and the dangers of illegal connections.