New Era (Windhoek)

29 January 2013

Namibia: Residents See Red Over Power Blackouts

Windhoek — Disgruntled residents from the Okondjatu district in the Otjozondjupa Region are fed up with power supplier Central Northern Regional Electricity Distributor (Cenored), for the endless power failures in that area, especially during the rainy season.

Not only do the frequent power failures leave many households in the dark, but it also costs consumers dearly in terms of spoiled food, not to mention being forced to adjust their diets unwillingly. Businesses in those areas are especially hard hit due to the massive losses of income. "This is absolutely inhuman and uncalled for," charged an angry resident.

"Many families slaughtered goats, sheep and cattle for their festive rituals, storing carcasses in the fridge that would sustain them through the remainder of their holidays, but we are now forced to cook all the meat before it gets spoiled."

Owners of backyard butcheries and bar owners and are also up in arms - pointing fingers in the direction of Cenored for a loss of potential profits as a result of the frequent power failures.

"As we are all aware, Namibia is an extremely hot country. Pub crawlers are used to quenching their thirst with large intakes of cold beer, but this is no longer possible in this area," lamented one of the business people.

"This is becoming an unbearable and disastrous, not to mention costly, matter. I'm urging those in charge to come up with remedial measures to end this unacceptable and farcical situation," added another disgruntled bar owner who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We are fully aware of the dilemma and have identified the problems with subsequent solutions to eradicate this burning issue. There could be a range of hiccups leading to power failure in that particular area such as worn-out poles, which can cave in when the soil is drenched or when lightning strikes causing damage to fuses. Our aim is to replace the old NamPower lines and demarcate the stations in order to lessen excessive usage," said Bethuel Hiiho an electrician at Cenored based at Okakarara. He blamed consumers for the delays in reconnecting the power hinting that they do not always report the power failure on time to the company.

People traveling through Okondjatu are also affected by the frequent power failures in the area, and often find themselves unable to fill up their vehicles at the only service station in the village.

In the meantime, Kobus van Schalkwyk has taken over stewardship at the dilapidated service station and has promised to put an end to the problem. "I'm begging for patience since I only took over from the 1st of this month, but I've taken note of what I consider legitimate concerns raised by the public. Rest assured, we will soon install a small power plant on the premises in an effort to put this unwanted disturbance to bed," responded Van Schalkwyk confidently.

As can be expected, petty thieves have made it their sole beat to pounce on unguarded communal water points, and help themselves to the diesel, which is sold for double its pump price.

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