As every Jan, Rap, his mate and the postman in South Africa knows, we have a crisis with electricity in these parts. Recently the umteenth CEO of our friendly service provider declared that the solution to the crisis was for us all to go pre-pay, therefore helping our friendly service provider with their cash flow. This idea might have unforeseen repercussions as Chris Yelland explains.
I had no opinion on this subject until I moved to an area where everybody has them, and I have to admit I’m sold on the idea. Firstly I’m not averse to bypassing the municipality, since there is no guarantee that they will pass on your payment due to pressing financial needs such as petrol for the BMW and KFC. In other words, you might pay your bill religiously and still get cut off. Or receive one of those ludicrous bills demanding an amount sufficient to purchase a small car, whereupon you queue for a week at the municipal offices to log a dispute and hand over your firstborn son until the dispute is settled. Shudder.
Secondly, there is no need to wait for that awful winter bill to hit your postbox, you know exactly what you’re consuming and can adjust accordingly. For instance, my geyser stays off until I put it on. Within an hour I can bath or do the washing. The dishes take a kettle or two. Admittedly it does put a cramp into the spontaneity of a bubble bath at a moment’s notice, but we all have to feel the pain, according to previously mentioned friendly service provider.
It is more expensive per kilowatt hour, but peace of mind is priceless. Whenever I get low on juice, I run up to Sean’s aka Continental Cafe and charge up. No fuss, no mess, punch in the voucher number and you’re good to go.
There is one thing I discovered about my pre-paid meter. When I’d been here only a week, I woke to hear the sound of some strange bird in the kitchen area. I went to the window, the chirp seemed to be coming from the ceiling, the cupboard up against the wall. What sort of strange country creature could it be and why was it in the cupboard where the electric meter is kept? Apparently once you go under 25 kilowatt hours it chirps and beeps until you feed it. Live and learn.