Namibia
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‘We are moving forward with Sored, despite objections’

The chairperson of the Hardap Regional Council, Gersohn Dausab said the establishment of the Southern Electricity Distributor (Sored) is moving forward aggressively.

This is despite Mariental and Keetmanshoop residents demonstrating against the establishment of Sored recently, saying the introduction of a middleman would increase costs to the consumer and that they were not consulted.

Asked about the process to establish the electricity distributor and when community members will be consulted, Dausab said: “People are demonstrating out of ignorance, because they do not want to listen to the proposal.

“We really want the people to know that we are busy crafting a tailor-made solution that will run on very low operational costs. Therefore, we are continuing to consult KrÖnlein and Westdene and people are buying in. And we are moving forward aggressively.”

Regional and local authorities from the Hardap and //Kharas regions are expected to join Sored as shareholders, making it the sole electricity provider to these communities. The shareholder structure requires the establishment of a board, while shareholding percentages will be determined by ceding electricity infrastructure or units of electricity sold annually, or both, to Sored.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES DIVIDED

Oranjemund mayor Lookback Kasemba said the Oranjemund Town Council has opted not to join Sored at this point, as they want to consult the community first.

“Our power supply is currently from South Africa. We manage our own electricity and water with Namdeb and our own staff. We do not owe anyone. Our biggest issue is the middleman. We do not want a middleman, because it will bring debt to our people,” said Kasemba.

Mayor of Lüderitz Benjamin McKay said: “Our council has not signed any agreement to become a shareholder of Sored. We first need to know what will be better than what we have now. What benefit will we have. And in our scenario, with green hydrogen coming to Lüderitz, we will have wind energy and solar energy. However, council will deliberate on the proposal and make a resolution.”

Mariental chief executive officer Paul Nghiwilepo said currently the council has no position on Sored yet.

“My council has not pronounced itself on the matter yet,” said Nghiwilepo.

NO ALTERNATIVE

Bethanie chief executive officer Reginald Kennedy said the Bethanie Village Council consulted the community and resolved to join Sored.

“We owe NamPower N$12 million. We met with them and gave them a payment plan, but NamPower rejected it, saying they want their money in three years’ time. Bethanie receives N$1 million annually from the government. We have to pay salaries, provide water, sanitation and electricity from that one million.

“Our income base consists of 60% pensioners. We have an electricity unit loss of 67% that was verified with electricians from Keetmanshoop when we realised what we buy and sell do not correspond. This is because of redundant infrastructure, as we do not have qualified electricians to do maintenance.

“But Sored said they will pay our NamPower debt, then we will only be liable to them. They will also help us with technical skills. So, what can we do, we have no other alternative,” said Kennedy.

Gibeon Village Council chairperson Sharon Bezuidenhout said Sored came at a time when they would have been left in the dark after NamPower announced power cuts.

“We owe NamPower N$13 million. After the presentation, council felt we will have increased shares in profits through Sored.

“All we are still discussing is the shareholding, because you obtain shares either through ceding our infrastructure or units sold annually. So, the discussion is around whether Sored will pay for the infrastructure, or how values will be determined,” said Bezuidenhout.

The urban and rural development minister, Erastus Uutoni, said he has not been briefed yet.

“I have not seen a proposal or business plan yet. Maybe the people are still coming to brief me,” said Uutoni.