Harrismith and Parys could face blackouts as from tomorrow

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SELLWANE KHAKHAU

Free State residents living in Harrismith and Parys and surrounds are in for hours of blackouts daily, due to their municipalities’ Eskom debt.

Ngwathe and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities’ electricity will be cut tomorrow at 10am, unless they reach an agreement with the power utility.

Eskom’s spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe says the two municipalities collectively owe close to a billion rand.

“If the two municipalities have not come forth with payment arrangements from 06:00 until 10:00, we will be disrupting their services. The interruptions will take time between 06:00-10:00 in the morning, and again from 17:00 to 21:00.”

According to the power utility’s spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, the two municipalities collectively owe close to a billion rand, and have not made any payment arrangements.

“Maluti-a-Phofung owes over R600 million, and Ngwathe over R300 million.That’s a lot of money”

Meanwhile, Ngwathe Municipality in the Free State says it’s working on payment arrangements to avoid the power cut.

The municipal spokesperson, Steve Maale says they are hoping that Eskom will accept their payment plan, so as to avoid blackouts.

Despite the uncertainty on the outcome, Maale is urging Parys residents not to panic about the situation. Maluti-a-Phofung municipality could not be reached for comment.

Furthermore, AfriForum says it will take Eskom’s to court for an interdict should the power utility implement power cuts on the two defaulting municipalities.

Afri Forum’s spokesperson for local government affairs, Ivan Herselman says they will be in court within two to four hours of the implementation.

“Afri Forum is ready to approach the court tomorrow for an interdict. Under no circumstances can people be caught in the middle of a dispute like this one. They can sue the council for the money, or they can get the money in any other way, but people should not be caught up in the middle of this crisis, he said.

Eskom is adamant that should the municipalities fail to reach payment agreements with the power utility by 10am tomorrow, Parys and Harrismith residents will be facing blackouts daily, starting from tomorrow.

Eskom maintains that it is within its right to disconnect electricity supply to defaulting municipalities.