BPC milks Kgalagadi North residents

Eric Raphuti

KANG: It has emerged following the recent news of its profitability and successful turnaround strategy that the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) charges Kgalagadi North exorbitant electricity connection fees.
Investigations by The Botswana Gazette in five villages of Lehututu, Hukuntsi, Tshane, Lokgwabe and Kang show that some residents are charged over P5000 in connection fees because their residential plots are “outside the village map”. This publication understands that as of 2012, another approach was used where BPC uses a 500-meter radius from the nearest transformer as the yardstick for determining connection fees.
The calculation of measurement which subsequently determines the connection fee is based on Arial Bundle Conductor line (ABC line) which transports electricity through 50-meter-apart poles to where it is needed. According to this policy, when a plot is within the boundary of 500 meters, the charge is P5000. If the plot is outside the 500-meter boundary, the connection fee shoots up to more than P100 000.
“The BPC said we are outside the village maps, sometimes they said we are more than 500 meters from the radius of the nearest transformer. To some extent they can say the nearest transformer is full therefore there is a need for another transformer from the spot of your plot,” said Mogomotsi Montshiwa, a resident of Lehututu.
However, BPC electricity connection fees seen by The Botswana Gazette   show that some residents are charged between P200 000 and P300 000. A source within the corporation confirmed the steep charges, saying because it failed to collaborate with other service providers like Water Utilities Corporation (WUC), local authorities and land boards to service the land prior to allocation, the Botswana Power Corporation was faced with financial challenges and is unable to provide transformers.
“What people should understand is that when you pay such huge sums of money to BPC for connection, they cannot pay you back. I know there is a circulating rumour that if a client pays a high amount, a refund will be paid by BPC provided there is no maintenance done by the corporation within that stipulated period of five years. That’s a mere rumour and it lacks the truth, BPC cannot pay that client because it is not in their policy,” said a source in management at the national power corporation.
This publication was unable to get the comment of Jwaneng BPC offices which the Kgalagadi District falls under, as office lines rang unanswered before press time.
BPC under the leadership of Dr Stefan Schwarzfischer spent the first six months in 2017 enhancing its profitability while simultaneously reducing costs. Under its current restructuring strategy dubbed Masa 2020, BPC says it has reduced its P1.2 billion operational loss to just P200 000 by January 2018. This is a remarkable feat considering capacity issues which dogged the parastatal in recent years.