Cape Town – Eskom has reached payment agreements with 10 out of 20 defaulting municipalities, after the supplier issued threats that it would begin power cuts in June.
“The bulk electricity supplies of municipalities that have entered into a payment agreement with Eskom will not be interrupted,” Eskom said in a statement sent to Fin24.
“However, municipalities have to comply consistently with payment agreement terms on a monthly basis. If these conditions are not met, interruptions of supply will be implemented without further notice,” it said.
On April 10, Eskom announced plans to interrupt bulk electricity supply to the top 20 defaulting municipalities across the country, with effect from June.
This represents about 3.8 million people, or 7% of the population. The total municipal arrears debt greater than 30 days was R4.6bn as at March 31, Eskom said in a statement.
Arrears debt reduced
Of this amount, the top 20 defaulting municipalities were indebted to Eskom to the tune of R3.68bn. Since the announcement, the total municipal arrears debt has been reduced by R54m.
Eskom said it was “contemplating” a regulated interruption of electricity on Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 10:00 and 17:00 to 21:00, and on Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 to 10:00 and 17:00 to 20:00.
Eskom Acting Chief Executive Brian Molefe said: “Eskom has reached a point where it can no longer continue to provide power without receiving payment in return. We are pleased that these 10 municipalities are doing their bit to ensure that they reduce the debt owed to Eskom and we encourage all defaulting municipalities to do the same”.
Meanwhile rights group AfriForum is seeking a court order to prevent Eskom from initiating power cuts and extra load shedding on defaulting municipalities.
Tiaan Esterhuizen, Manager of Community Structures at AfriForum, told Fin24 on Wednesday that the group applied for a court order to prevent Eskom from cutting power supply, and that municipalities must make a paying agreement with Eskom.
“Through the court AfriForum would like to force municipalities to pay Eskom as the supplier has gone into many private negotiations with municipalities, which have not worked,” he said.
According to Esterhuizen the court order will enable Eskom to follow the contempt of court route if municipalities fail to pay their debt.
Eskom has started sending out notices to towns last week, informing communities it plans on implementing extra load shedding or cutting electricity supply to some towns from June 5 2015.
According to AfriForum the towns that have received notices include Witbank, Ventersburg, Bethal, Odendaalsrus, Secunda, Riebeeckstad, Kriel, Kinross, Standerton, Graceland Casino, Welkom, Emzinoni Township, Hennenman, Embalenhle Township and Evander.
Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, told Fin24 that the supplier issued seven notices, four in the Mpumalanga province and three in Free State.
“Payment agreement negotiation are still on the cards, however, municipalities have to comply to payment agreement terms on a monthly basis.
“Monthly current accounts have to be paid timeously and in full. If these conditions are not met, interruptions of supply will continue to be implemented,” Phasiwe said.
The following 10 municipalities have entered into payment agreements with Eskom:
• Nama Khoi Municipality in Northern Cape
• Nketoana Municipality in Free State
• Nala Municipality in Free State
• Dihlabeng Municipality in Free State
• Thabazimbi Municipality in Limpopo
• City of Matlosana in North West
• Naledi Municipality in North West
• Madibeng Municipality in North West
• Randfontein Municipality in Gauteng
• Westonaria Municipality in Gauteng
Eskom has served notices to the following municipalities:
Mpumalanga province: E malahleni municipality, Lekwa municipality, Govan Mbeki municipality, Msukaligwa municipality.
Free State province: Matjhabeng municipality, Ngwate municipality and Maluti A Phofung municipality.
*Will you be affected by power cuts? Share your concerns and you could be published.