Looming blackout at //Kharas settlements avoided

03 Feb 2017 15:40pm
By Patience Smith
KEETMANSHOOP, 03 FEB (NAMPA) – Electricity bills of settlements in the //Kharas Region listed as defaulters in a NamPower notice this week were cleared, said //Kharas Acting Chief Regional Officer, Elizabeth Coetzee on Friday.
The //Kharas Regional Council is responsible for the payment of bulk services of approximate 24 settlements in the region.
Coetzee said the council last week paid N.dollars 800 000 to the national power utility, clearing debt that accumulated over about three months at the settlements.
The settlements include Noordoewer, Ariamsvlei, Vaalgras, Kosis, Blouwes, Wortel, Warmbad, Gainachas and Aus.
The //Kharas villages listed in the NamPower notice: Tses, Berseba, Bethanie and Koës; are however responsible for their own debt.
Coetzee made it clear the council would not be able to assist the villages due to its own budget limitations from National Budget cuts.
The chief executive officers for Berseba, Charles Vries; Koës, Willie Humphries; Bethanie, Frans Windstaan (acting); and Tses, Fritz Christiaan all told Nampa they were scrambling to find solutions.
Berseba owes N.dollars 168 000, while NamPower is demanding an immediate payment of N.dollars 91 000.
“I inherited part of this debt when I took over at Berseba last October and we are trying our best to find means to prevent an electricity blackout,” Vries said.
Windstaan and Humphries declined to reveal figures owed to NamPower by Bethanie and Koës.
Christiaan, who took over reins at the village council last October, said it will be impossible for the village to pay NamPower.
He said there is nothing they can do.
“We owe NamPower N.dollars 1,6 million and they are demanding N.dollars 1,5 million, which we are in absolutely no position to pay.”
Christiaan said he communicated this predicament to the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development.
“We receive an annual subsidy of N.dollars 800 000 from the ministry, which is simply not enough to cover operational expenses and pay bulk suppliers.”
Their only other income is limited funds they receive from the community for water and electricity.
He said the village also did not receive its subsidy payments from November last year and that he was in the process of negotiating payment to NamWater over arrears and current debt.
“We might get N.dollars 150 000 from the ministry soon and these funds will go to the payment of water,” Christiaan said.
He said the only solution would be for the relevant parties to convene around a table and discuss financial difficulties.
“We, NamPower and Government have cash flow problems. We all have to sit down and talk on the best ways of alleviating the frustrations of our communities,” Christiaan said.
NamPower announced it will cut off electricity supply to a number of towns, villages and settlements in the Khomas, Hardap and //Kharas Regions on 08 February if the authorities fail to pay.
The respective authorities owe NamPower over N.dollars 45 million.