Okahandja escapes NamPower disconnection plans

Martin Endjala

The joint venture between the Central North Regional Electricity Distributor (CenoRED) and the Okahandja Town Council has managed to dodge the plans of NamPower to disconnect clients in arrears from the national power grid after agreeing to N$2 million in outstanding debt.

The successful talks were held yesterday in the capital.

The new agreement was confirmed by Gabriel Awaseb, the CenoRED Acting Chief Executive Officer during a media briefing yesterday.

Awaseb said that the initial report earlier this week created a fuzz in the public with many residents reporting that they were shocked and in panic upon seeing the NamPower load-shedding plans.

The CEO explained that after they held successful talks with NamPower, it was then decided that Okahandja will not face the power cuts and that the N$2 million outstanding account will be settled over a short period.

CenoRED spokesperson, Charlie Matengu, confirmed that the company is indeed in arrears with NamPower.

He, however, said that they were supposed to execute their payments on the 25th of every month, but ended up making payments late on the 30th of every month, adding that this has affected their payment plan, which has now accumulated a lot of interest while indicating that Okahandja was not supposed to appear on the Nampower power utility cut list in the first place, only that payments were made late.

“I want to reassure and reaffirm to the Okahandja residents that Okahandja will not be cut off from the national power grid and the town has been removed from the list.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this might have caused, and we assure you that load-shedding will not be experienced in Okahandja,” Awaseb said.

CenoRED further reassured that the Otjozondjupa, Kunene, Omaheke and parts of the Oshikoto regions will also not be affected because their accounts are all up to date and residents are urged not to panic.

Awasab said that the good and sound relationship between CenoRED and Nampower has not changed and it continues to grow stronger every day. The good relationship resulted in the two entities reaching a compromise.

The CenoRED Okahandja joint venture agreement was signed in 2017 which gave the town’s municipality 60 percent of the responsibility

At one stage the town’s debt stood at N$64 million but since then the parties managed to reduce it to only N$2 million.

Earlier this week NamPower threatened to switch off supply because outstanding debt escalated to more than N$1 billion.

In an announcement issued by NamPower’s Managing Director on Tuesday, Simson Haulofu said the utility company is set to introduce a gradual disconnection schedule to two regional electricity distributors, one regional council and 19 local authorities across the country.

The two regional electricity distributors, Cenored and Nored, the Karars Regional Council, the Groot Aub and Brakwater areas of the City of Windhoek, Rehoboth, Mariental, Karasburg, Gobabis, Aranos, Lüderitz, Gibeon, Maltahohe, Bethanie, Tses, Koës, Leonardville, Berseba, Kalkrand, Stampriet, Gochas, Witvlei and Aroab will be left without electricity supply.

The interruption is scheduled to start on 5 June 2023 and will initially only stop supply for four hours per day between 11:00 and 15:00. In the first week, or Stage 1, supply will be cut on a Monday. Every week that goes by without payment to the national utility company, an interruption day will be added until the schedule reaches Stage 7.

From Stage 7 onwards, two hours of electricity interruption will be added to each time period which at Stage Nine will leave Namibians without electricity for eight hours per day.

Haulofu, however, added, that to limit the continued escalation of debts, NamPower will commence with the suspension of electricity supply to defaulting customers unless the outstanding overdue amounts are settled before 5 June 2023.

The company has resolved to extend a debt settlement incentive whereby NamPower will write off the interest portion of the outstanding debt accrued over the preceding 12 months period in the event that the customer settles the outstanding amount in full on or before 31 May 2023.

Haulufu said that a significant portion of the more than N$1 billion is way overdue and the power cuts will encourage customers to settle their debts.

To enable NamPower to continue delivering on its mandate, that of ensuring the security of supply to the nation, the MD reiterated that it is important that customers honour their commitment to paying their electricity bills timeously.

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