Irate Karas residents want SELCo issue resolved

Irate Karas residents want SELCo issue resolved

KARASBURG residents want their dispute with the town’s local authority over a long-term contract signed with the Southern Electricity Service Company (SELCo) settled before new councillors take over.

Residents of the southern town fear that the “mess” created by the current council regarding the SELCo issue could be too complicated for the new councillors who will take office after next month’s local authority elections. “To a certain extent, most of the Karasburg candidates [for the local authority polls] are aware of the problem, but it would be best if this fiasco is resolved now,” said community activist Lazarus Kairabeb.Last year, the Karasburg Municipality signed a 15-year contract with SELCo to run its electricity network, sparking widespread unhappiness among the community over escalating electricity bills.The residents, who accused their councillors of “selling” them out to the South African entity, were particularly opposed to the introduction of a separate basic charge from the pre-paid card system when SELCo took over.According to the community, the move had resulted in them accumulating huge debts, which they are now refusing to pay.Recently SELCo announced that it would do away with the system of a separate basic charge and also agreed to write off the outstanding debts of pensioners and the disabled.Kairabeb, who heads a committee advancing the community’s grievances, on Monday welcomed the company’s gesture but still felt that it only solved part of the problem.Kairabeb said Karasburg residents were still waiting for the Regional and Local Government and Housing Ministry’s decision on the matter after Minister Joel Kaapanda met all stakeholders last month.At the time, Kaapanda said the SELCo issue was “a very critical question” for Government and that residents needed to be patient and tolerant in allowing more time to find a lasting solution.Meanwhile, The Namibian has learned that SELCo plans to meet members of the Karasburg community tomorrow.The purpose of the meeting is not immediately known as the company could not be reached for comment.”To a certain extent, most of the Karasburg candidates [for the local authority polls] are aware of the problem, but it would be best if this fiasco is resolved now,” said community activist Lazarus Kairabeb.Last year, the Karasburg Municipality signed a 15-year contract with SELCo to run its electricity network, sparking widespread unhappiness among the community over escalating electricity bills.The residents, who accused their councillors of “selling” them out to the South African entity, were particularly opposed to the introduction of a separate basic charge from the pre-paid card system when SELCo took over.According to the community, the move had resulted in them accumulating huge debts, which they are now refusing to pay.Recently SELCo announced that it would do away with the system of a separate basic charge and also agreed to write off the outstanding debts of pensioners and the disabled.Kairabeb, who heads a committee advancing the community’s grievances, on Monday welcomed the company’s gesture but still felt that it only solved part of the problem.Kairabeb said Karasburg residents were still waiting for the Regional and Local Government and Housing Ministry’s decision on the matter after Minister Joel Kaapanda met all stakeholders last month.At the time, Kaapanda said the SELCo issue was “a very critical question” for Government and that residents needed to be patient and tolerant in allowing more time to find a lasting solution.Meanwhile, The Namibian has learned that SELCo plans to meet members of the Karasburg community tomorrow.The purpose of the meeting is not immediately known as the company could not be reached for comment.

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