Keetmanshoop — Keetmanshoop residents say the takeover of electricity supply by the municipality has not helped the residents one bit, as they still cannot afford electricity. The Southern Electricity Company (SELCo) was responsible for electricity supply at the town until the end of June.
Many residents were at the forefront of calling for SELCo to cease operations at the town over alleged high tariffs, with the municipality subsequently taking over such duties with the assistance of Erongo Red, but residents now feel the move has not helped them in any way. Some are of the view that SELCo's tariffs were even better.
Although the municipality made it clear the takeover would not mean reduced tariffs, an increase in tariffs barely a month after the takeover did not go down well with most residents.
Some say they are now paying far more for electricity than they did under SELCo and they are pointing fingers at the municipality for the increased tariffs, which they say is not affordable for many.
Residents New Era spoke to are disappointed the takeover of the electricity supply function by the municipality has not benefited the residents, but only the municipality, saying while the council can now derive more income from electricity, many residents still cannot afford electricity.
Tseiblaagte resident Annamarie Swartz told New Era she hoped for better after SELCo left, but was sorely disappointed after realising that she now pays even more for electricity than in the past.
She questioned why the municipality increased the tariffs in July, barely a month after taking over, saying the municipality was supposed to make things better for the residents and not just focus on profit.
"We cried for SELCo to go, but what did we get in return? Electricity [price] has increased, so it seems the takeover was just for the municipality to get money from electricity and the residents still pay more, so what is the use? We still cannot afford electricity," she said.
Another resident told New Era she now gets 130.4 units of electricity at a cost of N$300, compared to the 137 units she got for the same amount in the past.
Keetmanshoop municipal spokesperson Dawn Kruger said the municipality has maintained throughout and informed the residents beforehand that following the takeover no reduction in tariffs should be expected.
Further explaining that the tariff increase in July was normal, as the municipality had to adjust to the tariff increases imposed by the national power supplier, NamPower, adding that the increase would have been effected even if SELCo was still in charge of electricity supply at the town.
"The tariff increase is approved by ECB and it comes after NamPower increased its tariffs, so this is not the municipality increasing the tariffs; the tariff would have been increased even if SELCo was still here," she said.
She explained that the municipality would sell electricity at a loss if they did not increase their tariffs in line with increase from the supplier and thus electricity tariff increases are not in the municipality's hands.
She said although electricity is expensive, the takeover was important, as for the first time in many years the electricity network is being upgraded and properly maintained, which will benefit residents in the long run.
Keetmanshoop hiked its electricity tariffs by 9 percent as of July 1.