Solidarity: Philippi small businesses allege corruption in electricity cut

25 02 2010

Press Release – February 25, 2010

The electricity supply to Eisleben Business Park (EBP) established in 1996 in the Greater Philippi where approximately 100 businesses operate has been cut off since August 2009. The park is owned by the Philippi East Development Initiative (PEDI), a Section 21 non-profit company established in 1998, who acquired the park through grant funding from the provincial government. The City of Cape Town is a member of PEDI.

Small business tenants at EBP include Amazizi Funeral Services, Coffin Craft, Sewing School, Wooden Unicorn, Affordable Gas, Young Administrators, Merceds Bus Repairs, Security Services, Taxi Door Repairs, and Steel & Spikes.

There has been no communication from Centre management, City of Cape Town to the tenants before the power cut. The reason for the electricity cut is a combination of mismanagement and non-rental payments which have resulted in an arrears electricity bill (R1.6 million approximate). In April 2009 the City’s portfolio committee on economic, social development and tourism recommended an additional R300, 000 in funding for PEDI to pay for a turnaround strategy manager for EBP. This was in addition to R150, 000 already provided. The turnaround manager has not been physically been at EBP for the past 10 months.

To date there is a pending court case (CASE NO.: 298/02/2009) where questions are being asked about the government funding and other sources of income that seems to be unaccounted for. The businesses at EBP are doing their best not to close down as a result of the electricity cut. The situation at EBP is a desperate one as conditions have deteriorated since April 2009. As the business struggle to survive there are three Primedia billboards standing on the premises.

These businesses have stayed afloat for the past seven months is via community electricity connections and electricity sourced from the ANC office block which operates from EBP. The electricity supply to the ANC offices has never been disconnected. It seems the City of Cape Town and other stakeholders namely Western Cape Provincial Administration, Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, The Foundation for African Business and Consumer Service and The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry do not care about the effects of City’s mismanagement and are working towards “scrapping” the project as more and more questions are being raised about where the money designated for PEDI has been going.

For more information, please contact: Mariam Benjamin 021 374 9093 (tel), 084 561 3653 (mobile)

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