Power cuts loom for Msukaligwa

Eskom has notified the Msukaligwa Local Municipality of its intention to interrupt the bulk electricity supply from 9 October 2017.

The municipality is currently indebted to Eskom in the amount of R108 299 337 (one hundred and eight million, two hundred and ninety nine thousand, three hundred and and thirty seven rand) for the bulk supply of electricity, part of which has been outstanding and in escalation since February 2011.

In February the municipality faced the same problem, owing Eskom more than R139 million. At the time, the municipality did not honour their agreement with Eskom and bulk electricity interruptions had to be implemented by the power utility.

The total debt owed to the municipality by its consumers in February was more than R440 million, with the total owed by consumers as calculated at the end of June 2017 in excess of R450 million.

This total can be broken down to about R326 million in household debt, R109 million in business debt and R12 million owed by government departments.

According to Mr Mandla Zwane, spokesman for the Msukaligwa Local Municipality, they cut off the electricity supply to consumers that do not pay their electricity accounts.

This still raises the question as to why it is possible that the consumer debt is increasing, even though non-payers’ supply is disconnected.

The municipality’s breach of its payment obligation to Eskom, undermines and places in jeopardy Eskom’s ability to continue the national supply of electricity on a financial sustainable basis.

In terms of both the provisions of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006 and supply agreement with Msukaligwa, Eskom is entitled to disconnect the supply of electricity of defaulting municipalities of which Msukaligwa is one, on account of non-payment of electricity debt.

According to Mr Zwane, the municipality is paying Eskom. However, it is not enough. He added that there is an agreement in principle with Eskom of which there are clauses that the municipality and Eskom are not in agreement about.

Mr Zwane added that negotiations between the municipality and Eskom are continuing, hoping that a mutual beneficial solution will be reached in order to avert the planned interruption of bulk electricity.

By the time of going to print, the mayor, Mr SM Nkosi, told the Highvelder on Tuesday that they were to begin with a meeting to find answers and work out a plan of action and promised a full report which will be published in next week’s edition.

Mr Khula Phasiwe, spokesman for Eskom, told the Highvelder that there is ample time for defaulting municipalities to come up with reasonable payment plans to settle their outstanding debts. He added that Eskom is optimistic that the municipalities in question will honour their agreements.

The interruption of bulk supply to Msukaligwa should no agreement be reached or debt paid will result in temporary scheduled disconnections at these times: Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 08:00 and again from 17:00 to 19:30 and on weekends from 08:30 to 11:00 and 15:00 to 17:30.

Eskom has further notified the municipality that they may upon 15 calendar days’ notice disconnect electricity entirely and indefinitely should the electricity debt situation not improve.

 

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  AUTHOR
Erika Nel
Journalist

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