A recent meeting held in Springs brought together key stakeholders to address the critical issues plaguing the industrial sector. Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), Fikile Majola, along with senior officials from DTIC and a treasury representative, convened with City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) officials from energy and water departments, as well as senior executives from major industries in Springs. Mike du Toit, representing the Eastern Gauteng Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chaired the meeting.
Du Toit commenced the session by highlighting the long-standing challenges faced by the industry, especially since the destruction of the JVA and Munic substations. The unpredictable electricity supply has incurred significant financial losses for the sector, amounting to hundreds of millions of rands.
Prominent executives from major Springs-based companies took the floor to elucidate the dire impact of the energy crisis on their operations. They concurred that under such circumstances, considering new expansionary investments was unfeasible, and in some instances, they were compelled to downscale their activities.
While the industry expressed a willingness to cooperate with the government to surmount these challenges, previous offers of assistance had been rebuffed. The lack of adequate supervision over contractors was also identified as a significant issue.
Amidst the crisis, the industry aspires to collaborate with the government, contingent upon establishing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the parameters of their joint efforts.
A representative from a medium-sized family-owned business highlighted how load-shedding disproportionately affects small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they lack the resources to mitigate its impact effectively. A proposed solution involves devising strategies to safeguard the industry from the debilitating consequences of load-shedding, which poses an existential threat.
Beyond load-shedding, Du Toit emphasised that crime’s detrimental impact on electricity and water infrastructure is equally pressing. He cited an alarming statistic of 240 cable thefts in the Springs precinct in the previous year, each leading to extended power outages affecting industry and residents.
Majola acknowledged the gravity of the situation, clarifying that his visit aimed to comprehend the extent of the local issues. He had engaged with Premier Panyaza Lesufi and committed to liaising with the city’s executive mayor for future discussions, though both couldn’t attend this meeting. He pledged to involve the Minister of Electricity and the provincial police commissioner in forthcoming meetings.
The treasury representative highlighted that the CoE’s infrastructure repair and maintenance budget fell below the recommended level.
Majola outlined the formation of three task teams—communication, infrastructure, and security—to address the multifaceted challenges. He introduced the Energy Resilience Fund through the DTIC’s ‘Energy One Stop Shop’ initiative to expedite capacity enhancements.
He also mentioned COGTA’s framework on ‘wheeling,’ encouraging the industry to explore this avenue.
Du Toit thanked Majola, DTIC, treasury officials, CoE representatives, and industry leaders for participating in this pivotal meeting, anticipating future engagements. He extended appreciation to Mpact for hosting the session. This comprehensive recap captures the discussions and resolutions from the meeting, emphasising the collaborative efforts to navigate the intricate challenges facing the Springs industrial sector.
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Photo: Supplied by Springs Advertiser