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Still no light in the tunnel after Eskom threat for Ngwathe

It seems as if there still is no light at the end of the tunnel for residents of Ngwathe with Eskom saying in a statement last week that the electricity supplier will proceed to issue interruption of supply notices to three municipalities in the Free State including Ngwathe (Parys, Vredefort, Koppies, Heilbron and Edenville). The …

It seems as if there still is no light at the end of the tunnel for residents of Ngwathe with Eskom saying in a statement last week that the electricity supplier will proceed to issue interruption of supply notices to three municipalities in the Free State including Ngwathe (Parys, Vredefort, Koppies, Heilbron and Edenville).

The statement is to notify all parties who are likely to be affected by the intention to interrupt bulk electricity supply on a daily basis for 8 hours and on weekends for 6 hours per day, commencing on 5 June 2015 and continuing indefinitely

Ngwathe municipality owes Eskom R332 987 535.42, part of which has been outstanding and in escalation since July 2009. The other two Free State Municipality’s who received notices are Matjhabeng Municipality owing Eskom R 601 504 713.80, part of which has been outstanding and in escalation since September 2011, and Maluti-a-Phofung municipality currently indebted to Eskom in the amount of R 694 160 548.18 for the bulk supply of electricity, part of which has been outstanding and in escalation since June 2010.

The regulated interruption of electricity supply will result in temporary scheduled disconnections at the following times:
Monday to Friday from 06:00-10:00 and again from 17:00-21:00
Saturdays and Sundays from 07:00-10:00 and again from 17:00-20:00

Consumers within the jurisdiction of a defaulting municipality will be given adequate notice in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act no 3 of 2000, and will be given the opportunity to make written representations to Eskom, was said.

The notice clearly states that Eskom is under a statutory obligation to generate and supply electricity to municipalities nationally on a financially sustainable basis. “Ngwathe’s breach of its payment obligations to Eskom undermines and has placed in jeopardy Eskom’s ability to continue the national supply of electricity on financially sustainable basis.”

“In terms of both the provisions of the Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006, and the supply agreement with Ngwathe, Eskom is entitled to disconnect the supply of electricity…, on account of non-payment of the electricity debt”. “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 Ngwathe,” was said.

The proposed temporary daily scheduled disconnection of electricity in Ngwathe will have disastrous effects for residents.
As it is there is already not enough water for residents in Parys with the water purification plant running on maximum capacity without interruption of electricity supply.

With no generator at the plant, this will mean serious water shortages and empty reservoirs. The town’s sewerage plant does have a generator but will cost millions to run daily. Money Ngwathe does not have. Apart from this the old and not properly maintained electricity network has already had damages in the past due to continuous load shedding that was not even for this long or on a daily basis.

Parys solely depends on tourism for an income for most of the businesses. Being without water and electricity might mean that restaurants who cannot afford alternative arrangements, will have to close their doors and retrench personnel.

Although Ngwathe management blames non-payment for the Eskom electricity threat, the question is still how fair this threat is to many who does pay their electricity or have prepaid meters? Especially in winter time and for those on life supporting machines.

* The Parys Development Forum had a public meeting last night to discuss the Eskom crisis and the way forward. Gazette will report on the meeting and it’s outcome in the next edition.

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