Lights-out warning for Thaba Chweu

2013-10-13 20:25


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Mbombela - More than 100 000 people face an electricity shutdown if the Thaba Chweu local municipality in Mpumalanga fails to pay a R146m debt to Eskom before Wednesday.

The looming deadline comes after the utility provider issued an ultimatum demanding payment of the long-standing debt, or the entire municipal area of 5 719 km² would be plunged into darkness.

“The municipality has not communicated with us at all and so far there have been no payments made, so, as it stands the power cut will be going ahead,” said Eskom's spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.

Phasiwe said the municipality would be left without power indefinitely until the debt has been paid.

Thaba Chweu encompasses the tourist towns of Mashishing, Graskop and Sabie, and has a total population of just more than 100 000 people.

“We don’t enjoy doing this, but we expect customers to pay or at least come to us with an agreement discussing ways in which to negotiate payment.

"We are hoping that the municipality will communicate with us. Our door is always open,” said Phasiwe.

In September, a municipal task team was dispatched to Thaba Chweu by the provincial government in order to prevent what Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza described as "a total collapse".

Thaba Chweu communication director Surprise Maebela said that the municipality was struggling to gather payments from its own debtors.

“There are people who owe us money, but we are waiting to see what the results of the task team’s investigation will reveal.

"We are, however, confident that we will resolve this issue before the deadline,” Maebela said.

At the signing of a memorandum of understand with Eskom in Mbombela recently, Premier David Mabuza said that a team of nine MECs had been appointed to resolve the situation in Thaba Chweu.

“I understand Eskom’s point of view because it is a business that needs to make money. I pay my rates and taxes so why should I have to sit in darkness because of the municipality’s problems?” said Mabuza.

 “This is a very abnormal situation and Thaba Chweu has big problems with its billing and revenue collection systems. As provincial government we are stepping in to assist and we assure Eskom that the debt will be paid.

"Everything is under control. There is no need to worry.”
Read more on:    eskom  |  mbombela  |  energy  |  service delivery

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