Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Mr. Des van Rooyen has given a thumbs up to South Africa’s power utility Eskom for announcing its readiness to cut the power of defaulting municipalities.
Mr. Des Van Rooyen described the move as the right plan of action, expressing hope that provincial governments and municipalities will ensure that the power disconnection is carried out to the letter.
Eskom on Monday commenced with power interruptions to the defaulting municipalities. According to Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe, the power utility interrupted the power supply to the Ventersdorp and Naledi municipalities.
The interruption began at 6 am and ended 8 am, affecting Ventersdorp, Tshing township, Appledraai, Buffelsvlei, Boikhutso, Toevlug, Doornkop, Vryburg and Stella.
Phasiwealso related that the power cuts affected approximately 90 000 customers.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the power utility also announced that it has received payments and signed payment plans with 21 municipalities of the 34 municipalities scheduled for supply interruptions during the month of January.
Eskom divulged that the defaulting municipalities owed it more than R10 billion, which grew over the past eight months from R6 billion.
It also announced that it will continue with the supply interruptions of electricity to the Naledi Municipality in the North West Province between 06:00 and 08:00 and 17:00 and 19:30 on Tuesday.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr. Des Van Rooyen urged municipalities to do the right thing and pay for the power.
“It is important for municipalities across the country to always service their bulk accounts so that they do not prejudice those community members within their space who pay for their services.
“We are confident that provincial governments and municipalities will ensure that the agreement is respected and all actions agreed upon are finalized,” said Van Rooyen. We urge municipalities to pay for the services they have received – it is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Eskom said it plans to carry out power interruptions next Monday in areas like Lekwa, eMalahleni, Mkhondo, Mbombela, Msukaligwa and Chief Albert Luthuli municipalities in Mpumalanga.
Affected towns include Doornpoort, Kwaguqa, Witbank, Churchill, Piet Retief, Amsterdam, Mbombela Stadium/Ilanga Mall, Riverside/Nelsrivier, White River, Nelspruit, Standerton, Ermelo, Carolina Town and Silobela.
A good number of customers, including to municipalities, which distribute power to end users, buy electricity from Eskom. About 180 municipalities are licensed to distribute electricity.