City of Cape Town and Eskom officials shared in the joy of close to 800 families in the Klipheuwel informal settlement when electricity to the community was officially switched on on Friday, the city said.
“A candle or paraffin light is now something of the past as the Klipheuwel community will now be able to get lighting from a flick of a switch,” Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said on Sunday.
“The city is proud to be part of this project. It has been a long road and, together with the community, we persevered,” she said.
Residents had been living on the privately owned land since the late 1990s and the city could not install electricity on privately owned land. Klipheuwel was the site of many protests and the city had been negotiating with the land owner for many years to sell the land so that the city and Eskom could supply electricity to residents.
In 2014, the previous owner of the land started negotiations to sell the land to the city and “this battle went for some time”.
“I met with the then land owner in February 2015 and until October 2015 extensive negotiations and deliberations continued between the city and the previous land owner about the provision of electricity and purchase of land. Finally, we had a breakthrough and, in February 2016, the deed of sale was signed and the city bought the land for R943 500,” De Lille said.
“We could then start with improving the living conditions of the community, with Eskom installing electricity for close to 800 families. We were determined to make this happen and we can now celebrate a great success with Eskom and, most importantly, the beneficiaries. It was truly an amazing feeling to share in the joy with the residents who will now have much more comfort and warmth.”
Following months of planning, Eskom started the electrification project, which was completed in six months.
“Eskom continues to contribute towards the socio-economic developmental goals of the country by intensifying its electrification delivery programme,”said Eskom provincial head Alwie Lester.
De Lille said that with electricity in the informal settlement, the risk of fire had been drastically reduced as residents no longer needed candles for lighting and fires or paraffin stoves for cooking.
“But very importantly, our young children who want to learn and sit with their books at night no longer have to do so with struggle. They can flip a switch and have the light they need to study and educate themselves.
“This is indeed in line with our goals to enhance service delivery so that we improve people’s lives and their chances in life by giving them access to services which they need in their daily lives,” she said.
For this financial year, the city had set aside R90 million for electrification projects in informal settlements, new housing projects, and in backyarder dwellings across the city. Even more families could look forward to the day when candles and paraffin lighting was a thing of the past.
“By working together, we can tackle the socio-economic conditions in our communities by doing all we can to give more residents a better living experience,” De Lille said.
– African News Agency (ANA)