Serious effects can follow termination of smart meter programme

Where does Emfuleni residents stand with regards to the installation of smart meters in the area? Some residents who are already on the system, say it functions better than any previous system and that their monthly electricity bill is actually less than before. Others say they don’t want Smart meters and are willing to fight installation of such meters violantly if necessary.

Ster/Vaalweekblad has in recent months repeatedly approached both ELM Municipal Manager Oupa Nkoane and Executive Mayor Jacob Khawe on their smart meter policy and intentions but all requests for information and interviews have been rebuffed without comment. However, Khawe responded earlier this week to Ster/Vaalweekblad saying he intended commenting on the record this week.

Smart meters have generated more than R100 million in sustainable revenue for ELM thus far, leaving experts baffled as to why ELM was considering terminating the contract after a sudden legal review process and after years of insisting publicly the contract was valid, Ster/Vaalweekblad has learned.

ELM is regarded as not only the most corrupt local authority in Gauteng, but also in the top 10 of dysfunctional municipalities in the country. Plagued by mismanagement and maladministration, it was placed under partial administration by Gauteng Province earlier this month.

Emfuleni’s smart meter programme is considered one of the most advanced in Gauteng, but installations to reach the 66 000 target have been repeatedly halted by ELM, the last halt being from September 2017.

If Emfuleni now decides to terminate the smart meter programme, which looks quite likely, interruption of power resupply from the estimated 9 000 smart meters already installed throughout Emfuleni are now a real possibility. Vaalweekblad/Ster doesn’t even want to speculate about the possible consequences but from a logical viewpoint we can expect a complete destabilisation of the local economy, apart from fueling community violence and further undermine revenue generation of the local authority.

In another move compounding a possible crisis around smart meter power supply, Eskom last week published its intention to further restrict electricity supply to Emfuleni due to non-payment. It seems residents of the Vaal have to brace themselves for a long, cold and dark winter this year.

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