22 Nov 2016 18:20pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 22 NOV (NAMPA) The Keetmanshoop Municipal Council has decided to extend its electricity management contract with the Southern Electricity Company (SELCo) until 30 June 2017, despite opposition from the local community.
Municipality Chief Executive Officer Desmond Basson and Mayor Gaudentia Krohne said in a media briefing on Tuesday the decision was made in the interest of Keetmanshoop residents.
We want to avoid a disruption of electricity services at all costs, Krohne said.
The resolution to extend the relationship with SELCo was taken at a special council meeting on Monday.
This followed recent deliberations with the Electricity Control Board and the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, where it became clear that the municipality was ill-prepared for a takeover.
Basson expressed the municipalitys intent to take over electricity supply after the new contract lapses, though the ministry previously opposed this, citing local authorities mishandling of finances.
During this contractual period, we want to put all measures in place for a successful takeover. We will propose to the ministry that we will ring-fence the electricity revenue and use it strictly for electricity provision.
Despite residents cries for the removal of SELCo over its high tariffs, Basson said that residents should not expect electricity to be cheaper after the municipality takes over.
Tariffs are determined based on what bulk supplier, NamPower charges with a small margin going towards the operations to supply the electricity locally.
The council further resolved to appoint a steering committee consisting of members from both SELCo and the municipality to conclude the contract and lead the transition process.
This committee will provide bi-monthly progress reports to the ECB while appointing a local legal counsel to help draft the contract.
Basson said from time to time, the municipality will liaise with the community and SELCo workers on progress made during the transition period.
The workers are expected to be employed by the municipality once a takeover happens.
SELCo meanwhile will be instructed by the CEO to continue with planned and periodic maintenance and to consult with the municipality before installation of new equipment on the local electricity network.