by John Miller

How often do so many of us despair at the poor performance of so-called service providers? The answer is – very often. Whether it’s our telephone land line monopolist, our cell phone company, our bank, our local municipality, our provincial roads department, or virtually anyone who tells us “I’ll be there on Thursday at 9 in the morning”, and is not, or tells us “I’ll get back to you tomorrow”, and doesn’t – it’s a woeful story, no fun at all, and a sad reflection of the way our country operates.

My experience with Eskom is an exception, and I know many of you will agree with me.

I’m not speaking of the Eskom that has raised our rates so high so fast that electricity has become one of our largest monthly expenses. Nor am I speaking of the Eskom that continues to insist on reliance on coal for most of its power generation, acting as if there is no alternative in its long range planning.

Rather, I am speaking of the local Eskom technical team based in Vaalwater.

In the winter, much of their time is spent on maintenance. This often includes clearing vegetation that threatens lines, poles, and access; repairing rotting poles, or replacing those gutted by veld fires, frequently in deserted, hard-to-reach places where gates are locked and the owners are absent.

In the summer, most of their work is in response to power outages, the result of powerful storms that send branches and trees crashing through wires, or lightning that knocks out a substation, or more lightning that trips the fuse on transformers on our property. With their improved system, the team is aware of faults immediately. They can now isolate the location of the fault. In fact, they can begin repair work before we are able to report the problem to the call centre.

More often than not, the teams are called out on weekends or at night – often in the middle of a storm – and must work under difficult, dangerous conditions to make a repair. When there are multiple concurrent outages, their resources are stretched, clients lose their cool, phone lines are clogged with fault reports and complaints; and expressions of thanks are rare.

This is not a job for the faint-hearted.

The Eskom Technical Service Centre in Vaalwater, led by Moses Mosue, has consistently provided excellent and expeditious responses to our troubles to the best of its ability (which is very, very good). On behalf of Waterberg Nature Conservancy members and others in our community, I want to publically express our gratitude to Moses and his team – Jan van der Linde, Ephraim Malatse, John Mbedzi, Paul Seema, Moses Makgae, Lucky Mthombeni, Vincent Maphanga, and Ms Gaonewe Bogatsu.

Thanks guys! You are doing a great job, and set an example for other service providers everywhere to follow. We hope your management recognises the contribution you’re making, provides you with the resources you need and rewards you for your efforts.