Energy minister’s promised R150m not forthcoming

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s battle to curb electricity losses has suffered another setback as the R150-million funding promised by the national government for the electrification of informal settlements will not be forthcoming.

This was revealed by infrastructure, engineering and energy political head Annette Lovemore at her standing committee meeting on Friday.

Lovemore said that after several letters were sent by herself and mayor Athol Trollip, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the R150-million she had promised the metro was dependent on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

“We did not receive the R150-million promised. Most recently we received a letter from the minister [Joemat-Pettersson] in response to letters from me and the mayor,” Lovemore said.

“She said she had requested that the minister of finance include it in his budget, and that it was up to him and his balancing of priorities.

“He [Gordhan] did not include it, so unfortunately the money has not been made available.”

Joemat-Pettersson promised to give the money to the metro amid huge fanfare in July, and said the municipality could receive even more funding if it was spent quickly.

Hoping the money would come through, the metro continued with plans and designs to formally electrify 15 000 informal settlements.

At the meeting, DA councillor Thobani Noqoli said it was unfortunate communities had not been informed that the funding was no longer coming.

“[With] all the negative things that are happening in this municipality the communities will say Trollip this, Trollip that,” he said.

“We need to inform residents what is happening with this funding.”

Lovemore said officials were looking at other funding avenues, including the Department of Energy.

“We know we face potential further deaths due to illegal connections. We cannot sit and do nothing,” she said.

“I know in the draft budget there is an allocation of R25-million for that project. We have to find the money, there are 25 000-odd illegal connections that we have to deal with as this city.”

Electricity and energy director Peter Neilson said the department had recently promised the city R25-million funding.

“But I don’t think we should be too hopeful until we see it coming. We hope [to get it] within the next two weeks.”

The metro lost more than R198-million in electricity losses between July and January.

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