Gauteng’s Crises in 2015
With Premier David Makhura address to the Gauteng legislature and citizens of the province, on Monday February 22, all eyes will be on him. Opposition parties and civilians alike will be listening closely for him to not only address the promises made by Gauteng government in 2015 but to also offer solutions to the challenges that faced the province in 2015.
Here are some issues on which the premier could offer a way forward:
The World Bank has recently reported that the drought that gripped the country in 2015 has driven a further 50 000 people below the poverty line. We saw Rand Water struggle to keep its municipalities in the province quenched, a problem they blamed more on aging infrastructure, which was battling to keep up with demand than on lack of rain.
Mamelodi Public Transport Feud
In July of 2015, AutoPax buses – a state-owned transport entity – took over a route that, up until June 30, had been used by Putco buses. This led to a breakout of violence from the Mamelodi Amalgamated Taxi Association as they had believed that the routes would be theirs exclusively once Putco ceased operating in the area. Putco did not renew its license with the Gauteng department of transport in five routes, citing the routes were not financially viable.
What followed were weeks filled with violence and stranded commuters, as the taxi association actively prevented AutoPax from operating.
It took an intervention from City of Tshwane mayor, Gauteng premier and national transport authorities to calm the situation down.
The Indigent Residents of Soweto
Brian Molefe, chief executive of Eskom, announced in 2015 that nationally, municipalities owe R8-billion in unpaid bills. He added that half of that amount is owed by Soweto residents. As a means to combat the demand on the national grid, which led to the need for load- shedding, Eskom began to introduce prepaid electricity metres in Soweto.
The prepaid meter for electricity was nothing new to residents of areas such as Dobsonville, Chiawelo and Meadowlands.. However, Orlando residents were not at all prepared to comply. Soweto residents and community committees protested the installation of prepaid meters as they would affect the quality of life for indigent residents. Many called for a negotiation of a flat monthly rate instead of prepaid meters, with Eskom rebuffing their advances.
Prepaid water meters were also installed in areas of the township but also received backlash from residents.
At the moment, until South Africa’s new power stations Medupi and Kusile are functional, Eskom imports electricity from Namibia and Mozambique but even with that, load-shedding has become the norm when electricity demands rise. Each year, around winter, since about 2008, Gauteng residents have come to expect that uninterrupted electricity supply is a myth.
In 2015, residents became accustomed to checking and memorising the load shedding timetable that the likes of City Power and municipalities were publicising. The protests in Soweto were also fuelled by the fact that parts of Soweto were, without warning, left without power for over 10 hours at a time.
The province was also introduced to rolling stages of load-shedding which ranged from two hours to four hours on a regular basis