Newcastle faces the dark

2019-08-30 16:03

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Eskom has warned of indefinite blackouts in Newcastle from September 30, after the municipality has consistently defaulted on payments towards a debt of more than R200 million.

A notice issued by Eskom indicates that Newcastle Municipality owes R213 123 387,95, which has been accumulating since May 2017.

According to the notice, industrial, commercial and residential areas which receive electricity supply from the Newcastle Municipality will be disconnected from 6 am to noon, and again from 4 pm to 8.30 pm every weekday from September 30 to October 6.

From October 7, electricity will be disconnected from 6 am to 8 pm on weekdays. This will continue until the municipality has paid all its outstanding debt.

Eskom’s notice reads as follows: “Newcastle 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 financially sustainable basis. In order to protect the national interest in the sustainability of electricity supply, it has become necessary for Eskom to exercise its right to disconnect the supply of electricity to the Newcastle Municipality.

“Eskom recognises that the indefinite disconnection of electricity supply may cause undue hardship to consumers and members of the community, and may adversely affect delivery of other services. In view of this, Eskom is contemplating a regulated interruption of electricity supply as opposed to an outright disconnection. The contemplated regulation interruption will allow members of the community and consumers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements for the scheduled periods of interruption.”

Dumisani Thabethe, Newcastle Municipality’s spokesperson, said the municipality would only release a statement on the matter on Monday after they have met with the Department of Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

Lennox Mabaso, Cogta’s spokesperson, said MEC Sipho Hlomuka has formed a task team that is currently working with the municipality to find a solution to the problem.

“The MEC is also encouraging Newcastle residents who do not pay for electricity to also play their role and pay what they owe to the municipality. Electricity is not free.”

Mabaso said the department will also be going out to speak to the community about the matter. “If it gets to the point where electricity is cut off, many will be affected, as this will cause companies to close down and investors to leave the area. We don’t want it to get to that, so we all need to work together.”

The DA in the province on Thursday called on Cogta MEC Hlomuka to urgently place the Newcastle Municipality under administration as an estimated 100 000 residents are set to be plunged into darkness.

DA spokesperson for Cogta in the province Mbali Ntuli said during the recent KZN budget debates, the DA raised the issue of provincial municipalities owing monies to Eskom.

“We also warned of the looming disaster if this was not dealt with. At the time, MEC Hlomuka responded saying that ‘For our part, we have been conducting revenue enhancement campaigns in selected municipalities and we have been successful.’

“Clearly this is not the case for Newcastle. The DA is once again calling on the MEC to use his powers of intervention and put this municipality under administration so that the issues of governance and leadership can be urgently addressed,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  eskom

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