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The City’s Electricity Services Department has set aside R50 million for this financial year to connect backyard dwellers on Council properties to the electricity grid. Read more below:

The City of Cape Town’s Electricity Services Department is pumping a further R50 million into its backyarder electrification project in 2016/17. A total of R229 495 913 has been spent on this project from inception up until this financial year.

The backyarder project started in Factreton and Hanover Park following a Council resolution in 2011 to allow the roll-out of services to backyard residents on City property.

These services include access to water, sanitation, waste collection and electricity and are rolled out to areas identified by the Human Settlements Directorate in consultation with residents.‘As far as we are aware, the City of Cape Town is the only metro in the country that has a programme to extend services to backyard dwellers living on Council-owned properties. We have done this in response to the steep growth in the number of backyard dwellers over the past decade, but also taking into account that they are some of the most vulnerable groupings in our city,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Alderman Ernest Sonnenberg.

The electrification project provides electricity connections directly to backyarders by installing electricity service connections directly to their dwellings, and includes the replacement and/or upgrading of backbone electricity distribution infrastructure. The infrastructure is designed in a manner that makes it capable of eventually serving backyard dwellings on private property too, as well as other forecasted growth in areas to ensure effective planning and spend.

The most obvious benefit of the electrification project is that it eliminates the reliance of backyarders on the main dwelling for access to electricity, and the potential exploitation and unsafe connections that come with such an arrangement.

‘It’s very difficult to determine who pays what when you have a situation where tenants share the electricity supply with their landlord. If not managed properly, it can lead to people being ripped off but also create unnecessary tension between parties. A single electricity connection from the main dwelling also makes backyard tenants wholly dependent on the landlord, with the result that they could be left in the dark if no one is home and the electricity runs out,’ said Alderman Sonnenberg.

Other benefits of the electrification project include reducing the risk of fires through the installation of safe and legal connections, improved quality of life for beneficiaries, and the restoration of human dignity.

A key challenge, however, is the cost factor in instances where the entire existing electricity network has to be replaced because it cannot cope with the required load increase.

The budget allocation for the current financial year will allow the Electricity Services Department to continue with existing projects in Parkwood and Bonteheuwel, the provision of infill electrification in Hanover Park, and the start of a new project in Kalksteenfontein.

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