R180 m. to keep lights on

2015-06-10 06:00
VUSI TSHABALALA, the executive mayor of the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality, during his budget speech at the Phuthaditjhaba Multipurpose Hall in Qwaqwa.
Tladi Moloi

VUSI TSHABALALA, the executive mayor of the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality, during his budget speech at the Phuthaditjhaba Multipurpose Hall in Qwaqwa. Photo: Tladi Moloi

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PHUTHADITJHABA. – A total of R180 million has been budgeted by the embattled Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality to pay Eskom part of the over R730 million owed to the power utility company by the municipality.

The local municipality announced at its budget presentation last Tuesday (02/06) it has that amount available to pay toward the huge debt the municipality owes Eskom.

The local municipality in question is one of the four municipalities in the Free State reported to owe the electricity supplying company Eskom millions of rands in outstanding payments. Maluti-a-Phofung has also been reported to be one of the three worst indebted municipalities in the Free State. The other two municipalities are the Matjhabeng Local Municipality and the Ngwathe Local Municipality in the Northern Free State. Vusi Tshabalala, executive mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung, announced during the state of the municipal address and budget presentation held at the Phuthaditjhaba Multipurpose Centre in Qwaqwa that R180 million had been budgeted to pay its Eskom debt. He said the municipality had budgeted the amount to avoid the embarrassment of having Eskom turn off the supply of power. “We don’t want to fail the community. We should make sure that we service the Eskom account so that it does not come to a point where they (Eskom) turn our municipality dark,” said Tshabalala. He further urged the community to stop tampering with the electricity supply through illegal connections, adding that people should buy electricity instead of resorting to using it for free by means of illegal connections.

“Some people are using electricity for free and that is resulting in Eskom debt.

“We are going to go house-to-house to check electricity connections to boxes. Believe you me, we will deal harshly with those found to have tampered with electricity meters. “So, we urge you, the consumer, to come to us before the end of June if you know that you have an illegal connection,” he said. Tshabalala also announced that he was going to embark on a programme whereby all civil servants staying in the rural areas would have to pay a flat-rate for services. “A total of 58% of the residents have bridged electricity, therefore there has to be a normalisation programme to be implemented. “We will continue until we are able to generate the necessary revenues,” he said. Tshabalala said in order to curb the bridging of electricity, vending stations would be placed closer to the residents in their respective wards. “We want to get rid of a situation where people have to travel or drive more than a kilometre to buy electricity,” he said

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