Power utility giant Eskom has began bulk electricity interruptions at Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, due to unpaid debt. The embattled municipality currently owes Eskom R117 million. Eskom says the municipality breached its payment obligation, thus compromising the power utility’s ability to continue the national supply of electricity, on a financial sustainable basis.
In a 24- hour cycle, various areas in the municipality will have power cuts for more than 6 hours. This could possibly double to 12 hours next week.
The municipality only paid R5.5 million of the outstanding R117 million due to the power utility. The ripple effect of the electricity debt has hit the local economy hard and residents have voiced their frustrations.
“It affects our work because consumers don’t come in and when it comes back on most of the ATMs don’t work. Then customers would come in to get money in the store while we don’t have any in the morning. It’s a struggle for us to work under that pressure. Every person alive in Jansenville is affected by this and the economy of the town badly, knowing that this town struggles a lot so the residents are very unhappy.”
The power utility says bulk electricity interruptions are expected to continue until payment is received.
Eskom communication senior advisor in the Eastern Cape Zama Mpongwana says the interruptions are necessary.
“The current situation is that Eskom is proceeding with the interruptions of power at the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality and this is as a result of us not reaching a payment agreement with the municipality on the debt they owe us. Therefore, the interruptions will go on until an agreement of payment is received from the municipality.”
The municipality says it is working around the clock to reach a sustainable agreement with Eskom.
Executive Mayor Deon De Vos says, “We are engaging with Eskom. There is an agreement on the table, but the other thing we want to do, we don’t want to go into an agreement that is not sustainable which we know we won’t be able to stick to. Our lawyer is engaging with Eskom in relation to the agreement, but it is very one-sided and we can’t sign something where we will waver all our rights to, but we are in talks and we want to prevent these interruptions.”
Until matters are resolved, residents and businesses have to deal with constant power outages.
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)