Mr. Nkoane, we hold you Accountable for the Smart Meter Fiasco!
Smart Meters!? Alas, not so smart…
A fiasco of gargantuan proportions, demonstrating incompetence, ineptitude, mismanagement, maladministration and complete disregard of laws and common decency.
Thank you, Mr. Nkoane, for holding your constituency at ransom for your mess, which could have been so easily prevented.
Enough is enough, already! You are personally responsible…
STRIKE 1: Darkness!
On 3 August, 2019, you dumped more than 6 thousand of your Consumers in complete darkness, for days, due to your inability to manage one single contract!
What lies behind the problems with SmartMeters?
By Councillor Edward von Bodenstein – 10-08-2019
The past week has seen the residents of Emfuleni Municipality been plunged into darkness due to lack of foresight and planning by the municipality in the handling of the smartmeters contract.
On or around 2012, the tender for electricity smart metering was advertised.This type of tender was meant to be a “PPP”(Public Private Partnership) as such national treasury’s approval was necessary.
There were only two companies who responded to the “RFP” namely BXC South Africa, a Chinese entity and Power.com, who apparently was local. During the Bid Adjudication “BA”, it became apparent that Power.com’s tender was incomplete and subsequently BXC was awarded the tender.
Period Going Forward
It is important to note that ELM did not have the necessary funding for this kind of project, and as such BXC, undertook to fund the entire project in return of a profit split of 80% to BXC and 20% to Emfuleni Municipality.
Under normal supply chain regulations, a contract would run for a period of three years, however, BXC made submissions to treasury to have the contract run for ten years in order to realise profit, which was granted.
The initial contract started in 2013, with both parties having endorsed clauses for penalties in terms of performance.Which performance would be non-failure by BXC of its product and the political will by Emfuleni to persuade the community to accept the concept of smartmeters.
It is also important to mention that whilst council agreed to this project, the Democratic Alliance recorded its reservation.
It is also important to mention that according to BXC, during the subsistence of the contract, BXC never received any payments from Emfuleni Municipality.
It became apparent that the contract was not yielding its intended benefits as the community was rejecting this concept outright-due to failure by the ruling party to have canvassed this to the community.
On or around 2017, the then mayor, Jacob Khawe instructed that the project be cancelled. BXC responded by demanding R30 million payment for invoices submitted to Emfuleni Municipality. Failure by Emfuleni Municipality saw BXC resorting legal proceedings.On or around 2018, BXC filed for an application forcing Emfuleni Municipality to honour performance as well as payment of invoices.
On or around June 2018, Emfuleni Municipality, issued out a tender for electrical meter replacement.BXC challenged this move by Emfuleni Municipality in court and won.
Termination of Contract by BXC
On or around April 2019, BXC started with the termination process. Finally on or around June 2019, BXC withdrew the application for specific performance and substituted same with a motion to terminate the contract with Emfuleni Municipality.According to BXC, Emfuleni Munucipality did not respond.According to BXC, they did not switch off the system, and on or around June 2019 Emfuleni Municipality proposed to enter into a transitional contract with BXC.
According to BXC, Emfuleni Munucipality undertook to pay a daily rate of R90 000 excluding VAT. Acccording to BXC, Emfuleni Munucipality only paid three invoices. This resulted in the nullification of the transitional contract. BXC, then again approached Emfuleni Municipality with a proposal of R2.8m per month for three months, this, after Emfuleni Municipality undertook to take over the smatrmeter project. According to BXC, the proposal above also did not realise.
According to BXC, on 3rd August 2019, Emfuleni Municipality instructed the electricity vending service provider Ice Cloud to switch off the vending system. BXC indicated that they have never in their part switched off the system, and are still committed to assist Emfuleni Municipality with the handover.Their intention is to leave the system running, even though they were forced to terminate the contract on 14th July 2019. They were however suing Emfuleni Municipality for damages arising out of the contract.
We submit as the Democratic Alliance that, lack of planning and foresight is the cause of this current debacle. A government that is non-carring for its citizens always acts ex post facto. We therefore reject this failure by Emfuleni Municipality with the contempt it deserves and we will always act in the best interests of our communities.
STRIKE 2: Apocalypse Now!!
And Then it Happened Again!!
In less than 4 weeks, and 2 days before a long weekend, you did it again, Mr. Nkoane, demonstrating your total and utter dis-contempt for your constituency, by a series of events that simply defies human reason:
- Unilaterally cancelling the BXC contract, with the full knowledge that all the Smart Meter Consumers will be very seriously affected.
- Dispatching ill-equipped and incompetent teams to commence with the bridging out of smartmeters, three days after you pulled the plug on the BXC contract. ERPA had no alternative but to intervene and take control of the bridging process, as your ‘teams’ bridged the meters with 1.5mm to 2.5mm guage wire, where regulations specifies a minimum of 10mm guage wire for 80A circuits, causing fire hazards as they go, resulting in ERPA having to re-do all the ‘work’ done by your teams.
- This bridging effort stretched over a period of more than 2 weeks, where ERPA had to leverage 19 fully qualified and certified electrical MIE volunteers, to bail you out of this calamity, which would have lasted months and resulted in more substation explosions if left to your own devices.
This Apocalypse (at least for more than 6 thousand of your citizens) was averted, if not for the intervention by ERPA, which you threatened with court action – We are still waiting, Mr. Nkoane, we dare you to take us to court!
Read the ERPA alert here: Smart Meter Emergency – Again!!!
Here is the notice you placed on Tuesday, 9 July 2019:
Yet another demonstration of post-apocalyptic cover-up campaigns by you and your dysfunctional organization.
STRIKE 3: Back-log Billing - Out of the Blue!!!
Then you went ahead and unilaterally slapped 3 thousand-odd bridged out smartmeter Consumers with backlog bills on around 27 January 2020, completely out of the blue, with preposterous, illogically arrived at amounts, and in complete disregard of due process, common decency and the law!
And this, after a lengthy discussion in December between ERPA and your top management staff, with a proposal tabled by your staff, and acceptable by ERPA, that came down to the following principles:
- Install a new, SABS certified meter.
- Take the average consumption over the next 3 months, from the date the new meter was installed.
- Apply the back-billing for the bridging period, based on this average.
Mr. Nkoyane, Please Take Note!!!
Here is what will happen:
- ERPA will continue to boycott your attempts to force the installation of yet another non-SABS certified meter, from questionable origin, while there are plenty of SABS certified equipment available locally. The documentation you provided is in actual fact proof that your proposed new meters are not SABS certified.
- ERPA will hold you to the letter of the law in terms of due process with regard to recovery of any back-billing. Expect the proposal made by your representatives (which was accepted by ERPA), in December 2019, to be the only amicable solution out of this mess, being;
- Recall the ill-fated back-bills that you released around 27 January 2020, as ERPA has advised its members to log disputes for the same.
- Follow due process in terms of the law, in engaging with your constituency regarding the plan of recovery for the bypassed period, and publish the agreed plan of action. ERPA will be more than happy to facilitate this process for you.
- Install a locally sourced, SABS certified meter, following due process – We can wait.
- Calculate the average consumption over 3 months, from the date of installation of the new meter, for each Consumer.
- Apply a single back-bill for the total bridging period (be it 5 months or 10, based on how long it will take you to source a suitably SABS certified meter…), based on this average calculated for each Consumer.
- Provide a repayment plan of the back-billed total, amortized over a 24-month period, with zero up-front down-payment.
This is your mess, Mr. Nkoane, not ours.
The Ratepayers and Residents of Emfuleni hold you personally accountable for your mess.
As a collective, the Emfuleni Community aim to exercise our rights to the fullest extent of the law, and by submitting my signature to this petition, I pledge my support to this cause.