Million people affected by Eskom power cut

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REFILWE MEKOA

More than a million people will be affected when Eskom cut power tomorrow.

Eskom said payment plans that three Eastern Free State municipalities submitted didn’t have expectable solutions. Spokesperson Adri Strydom said they followed a process before they decided to disconnect any electricity supply to the municipalities.

Eskom announced that bulk electricity supply at Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality in Qwaqwa, Dihlabeng in Bethlehem and Ngwathe Municipality in Parys will be disconnected on Friday, 3 October 2014. Strydom explained that after many negotiations and interactions with all relevant stakeholders, the municipalities failed to reach a payment plan extension of 30 September this year. She added that the debt is now gone beyond the expectable norms.

“They either didn’t honour their plans or their commitments because they did submit plans earlier on the year for previous disconnection notification but as we are speaking now they did not honour their side of commitment,” she said.

Strydom said the three municipalities have short-paid on their current account for a prolonged period. Maluti-a-Phofung owes R418.6 million, Ngwathe owes R257.9 million and Dihlabeng has a debt of R59.1 million.

“Eskom does not do this likely, we do this with a very heavy heart but as a business we should also be sustainable. Electricity is every South African’s business and at the end of the day, if Eskom cannot operate then nobody can operate. So, for us to keep operations going we have to follow this last resort route which will hopefully have a positive result,” she said.

Meanwhile, Eskom said that they have notified Free State MEC of Cooperative Governance and Human Settlements Olly Mlamleli and municipal managers of Maluti-a-Phofung in Qwaqwa, Dihlabeng in Bethlehem and Ngwathe in Parys regarding tomorrow’s power cut notice. Eskom spokesperson said they sent letters to Mlamleli and various municipality managers at the beginning of the week.

Strydom explained that they have done their best to get everybody on board and have been on a regular contact basis with municipalities which all the engagements didn’t have any effects. She added that with Matjhabeng Municipality in Welkom, they received a court interdict against regarding the disconnection.

“They didn’t honour their agreement that was reached in court so we will be following a process with them and they will not be disconnected,” she said.

Strydom emphasised that they cannot strictly cut down electricity in a municipal area specifically for residents who don’t pay their electricity bills because they have a bulk connection to the municipal areas.

“We are not in control of who pays for a municipal area and who doesn’t pay and unfortunately that is why this is the last resort. We normally try to negotiate, settle and try to get a payment agreement just to prevent this issue. It has now gone to the level that we cannot let us keep us back any longer because the amount keeps accumulating and no resolutions are coming forward” said Strydom.