News / South Africa

Steven Tau
2 minute read
2 Feb 2017
6:01 am

Breather for municipalities as Eskom extends debt deadline

Steven Tau

Even if no agreement is reached, there won't be a complete disconnection, but rather power interruptions of two hours at a time in coming weeks.

Another seven days’ grace has been given to municipalities with debts to Eskom, the power utility confirmed on Wednesday.

Municipalities were initially given until this week to either settle their debt or make payment arrangements.

On Wednesday, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said even if no agreement was reached between the utility and the municipalities concerned, there would not be a complete disconnection, but rather power interruptions of two hours at a time in the coming weeks.

“Eskom is led by a responsible management that is also aware of the fact that there are some municipalities experiencing difficulties in terms of revenue collection as well, as there is less economic activity,” he said.

Initially, the total number of municipalities owing Eskom was 40 across the country and 32 had already started making payments.

“Eskom has collected R1.3 billion already from those 32 municipalities, but we still have a long way to go,” said Phasiwe.

Of the eight remaining municipalities yet to start making payments, three are in Northern Cape, two in Mpumalanga, two in the Free State and one in North West.

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Emalahleni Local Municipality in Mpumalanga said it had been frantically looking for solutions to its the electricity challenge.

“A dedicated team, which regularly reported and sought advice from the executive mayor, Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, made consistent payments and ensured all of the 17 Eskom accounts are up to date. In total, an amount of more than R80 million has been paid to Eskom since the first notice of bulk disruptions was published.

“In addition, further payments towards the winter month arrears were made and a cogent payment proposal plan was duly submitted to Eskom showing how Emalahleni Local Municipality intends to deal with the nagging debt that now stands at R940 million.”

The municipality added that in Eskom’s latest statements, no indication of acceptance of this process or required amendments was mentioned.

Should municipalities fail to reach an agreement with Eskom after the seven days’ grace period, they will have power interruptions between 6am and 8am and between 5pm and 7.30pm.

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