Illegal electricity connections still plague community one year later

Back in 2019, the GO! & Express reported on a large number of illegal electricity connections that had sprung up in Stoney Drift.

LIVE WIRE: An illegal electrical connection snakes down a telephone pole in Stoney Drift. Residents say they are constantly dealing with such illegal connections despite numerous efforts from the municipality
Picture: MATTHEW FIELD

One year later, it seems that little has changed.

“I’ve been staying here for the past five or six years, and it’s been an ongoing problem with the illegal connections,” said Stoney Drift resident Tanya Moss.

According to Moss, a combination of illegal connections and wire theft have led to frequent power outages in the area and to make matters worse, BCM has been largely ineffective at combatting it.

“The majority of us who stay here have BCM Customer Care on WhatsApp. Every time there is a problem with the illegal connections, we ask them what the problem is,” she said.

“Then it’s always a case of ‘the technicians are working on it’ or they don’t tell us that the copper wire was stolen or that it’s because of illegal connections.

“They do remove [the illegal connections] and the minute the municipality leaves, the illegal connections are back up again.”

According to BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya, the municipality is continually removing illegal electricity connections from Stoney Drift.

“The making of illegal connections is an illegal act and breaks a number of laws. As the City, we react to the problem as required by law by removing the illegal connections making the network safe again before returning supply,” Ngwenya said.

When the GO! & Express visited Stoney Drift back in 2019, illegal connections crisscrossed the streets and often trailed off into the nearby bush. In contrast, only one such connection was seen during a follow-up visit last weekend.

“Illegal connections are made by communities from the informal settlements even though they are fully aware that what they are doing is illegal and extremely dangerous, not only for their community but the surrounding communities that may come in contact with the unprotected wires,” Ngwenya said.

“It also creates an unsafe environment for BCMM electrical staff.”

He said that while BCM has taken the decision to electrify certain informal settlements in the area, the one in Stoney Drift does not meet the requirements since it is located on an old waste disposal site.

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