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By Jarryd Westerdale

Digital Journalist

City Power collects R20m in past week but still owed R3.5bn as load reduction bites

City of Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda stated that City Power is still owed billions by Eskom as residents fume over power outages.

City Power completed a successful revenue collection drive over the weekend but the amount is a marginal gain.

Non-paying residents, defaulting customers and illegal connections in the south of Johannesburg were the target of the latest operation, which yielded R20.7 million in revenue.

Among the largest defaulters were a residential development that was R7.1 million in debt, as well as a hotel with an outstanding amount of R750 000. Residents and businesses who were unable to settle their accounts were disconnected.

ALSO READ: Winter in the dark: Load reduction on the cards for some Joburg areas – City Power

City Power stated that winter usage highlighted the need to address a “culture of non-payment” as pressure on the grid drastically increased.

Increasing the burden, City of Johannesburg (CoJ) mayor Kabelo Gwamanda claimed Eskom owed the entity R3.5 billion but that this amount only came to the fore when Eskom took the CoJ to court over a
R1 billion debt.

Load reduction woes for residents

City Power have implemented load reduction across the CoJ in suburbs that place a high strain on the electricity infrastructure.

The mayor said they had been communicating this eventuality since 23 May and insisted it was a last resort to protect the infrastructure.

ALSO READ: City Power implements power cuts in Joburg

Additionally, City Power would be exploring the installation of ripple relays that control the electricity supply to geysers during peak hours, as these were the greatest drawers of current.

Earlier on 10 June, DA’s shadow MMC of Environmental and Infrastructure Services Nicole van Dyk called for transparency from the CoJ about what was being done to maintain the grid and where tariff increases where being spent.

“Residents are now paying 12.72% more for power in Joburg but are being asked to consume less. We will not rest until the residents of Joburg know where they stand, and that their administration is at the very least trying to make life better for them,” stated Van Dyk

Revenue not linked to new projects

Gwamanda claimed the CoJ relied heavily on its budget allocation to define the extent to which it can expand its infrastructure.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika on 10 June, he stated that City Power was not experiencing an overall supply and demand issue, but struggling with the load experienced at specific points of the network.

ALSO READ: I told you so: Load shedding is coming back, says Maimane

Gwamanda blamed this on the population density of some suburbs that have seen a large influx of residents and where dwellings had an abnormal occupancy rate.

Van Dyk had earlier stated that the 70-plus days of no load shedding were an opportunity to reinforce the entities capacity, one that had been missed.

She reiterated the need to recoup outstanding debts, stating: “We call for immediate action to recover the significant amounts owed by provincial and national government departments to City Power. This money is critical for improving the power infrastructure and should not be neglected.”