ActionSA, Orange Farm residents, deliver memorandum to Eskom with challenges and expectations

Yesterday, ActionSA and Orange Farm residents handed over a memorandum to Eskom offices in Vereeniging, addressing delays in promised transformers from last year.

Orange Farm is a community situated approximately 40 km south of Johannesburg towards Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark and has one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa. Orange Farm is characterized by extreme levels of poverty and unemployment, with numerous social challenges. While the level of crime is substantially high, poor street lighting contributes to the high levels of crime at night.  

The area also experiences a low quality of basic services, with poor road infrastructure in the informal settlement that hampers proper public transport and sufficient healthcare services. The lack of electricity adds to the challenges that this communities faces on a daily basis.

On 25 March 2020, transformers broke down/exploded leaving hundreds of residents with no electricity. In order for these transformers to be replaced or repaired, residents were informed that each community member had to pay R500 (some residents even paid more), as a form of penalty due to illegal connections and breaching, which the residents subsequently done.

Residents have proof of payment of these monies paid over to Eskom. It has been more than 3 years now and these transformers have not been replaced or repair. The level of poverty, unemployment and crime have increased tenfold, especially at night. With streetlights not working, Orange Farm have now become a haven for criminals and criminal activities, while the peace and loving citizens of this community, lives in fear.

In November 2023, the Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi committed to have all the transformers (137 transformers) replaced by the end of December 2023, through the Transformer Replacement Programme, aimed at reconnecting communities without electricity to the grid.

On the 25 November 2023, 11 transformers were replaced and switched on in Orange Farm Ext 1, bringing some relieve to some residents. Additional transformers were also replaced and switched on, on 5 December 2023, bring some relieve to the residents in Orange Farm Ext 3 and Ext 8.

Since the last installation/replacement in Dec 2023, Eskom have been working at a tortoise’s pace and nothing realistic and tangible has transpired. The commitments made by the Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi that electricity will be restored by the end of December 2023, has not materialised and there are still hundreds of residents without electricity and still subjected to the ever-increasing social ills that plaque this community.

Even though we acknowledge that Eskom has replaced a small number of transformers and brought relieve to a few residents of the Orange Farm communities, we still feel that Eskom is not doing enough to fast-track the Transformer Replacement Programme and it feels like Eskom is holding residents at ransom.

At the rate that Eskom is replacing these transformers, hundreds of residents will be bracing themselves for a 4th winter without electricity, and with it, an increase in social ills and challenges that this community must endure.

Ward Councillors are not doing enough to keep residents informed about progress, and only those who are politically connected, has access to this information. To add insult to injury, residents where transformers have been replaced, are paying R200 per month for future breakdowns of transformers in the area. This is totally unacceptable.

When looking at similar problems experienced across the City of Johannesburg, where residents receive electricity directly from Eskom, the challenges we have been facing for more than 3 years now, does not exist. In fact, if a transformer(s) breakdown in Soweto, Eskom moves heaven and earth to restore electricity to the residents, why are we treated differently, and with hostility to say the least?

We the residents of Orange Farm hereby demand the following:

1.Communicable timelines when the remaining transformers will be installed and switched on within 14 days.

2. Any deviation from the agreed timelines must be communicated with the residents timeously with a detailed and acceptable explanation as to why.

Issued by ActionSA

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