Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

Eskom threatens to pull the plug on R123m owing KZN municipality

Soweto Eskom debtThe municipality’s failure to collect electricity debts has come to haunt it.

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The newly-anointed MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) in KwaZulu-Natal, Sipho Hlomuka, faces the difficult task of convincing Eskom to reconsider its threats of cutting power supply to the embattled Mooi-Mpofana municipality.

As reported by The Herald, the metro, that services the KZN midlands, has failed in its commitment to pay its R123-million debt to the power utility.

Related: Nelson Mandela Bay metro in for shocking electricity and rates hike

Why is Eskom threatening to cut power in Mooi-Mpofana?

According to the notice that was issued to the municipality, by Eskom, the power cuts are scheduled to come into effect from Monday, 8 July.

This means that areas such as Mooi River, Bruntville and Nottingham Road will have to survive without electricity if nothing is done to prevent the power utility from acting on its threats.

The large debt bill, according to Hlomuka, stems from unpaid commitments dating as far back as July 2015.

Hlomuka was brought in by the province’s new Premier, Sihle Zikalala, to implement a turnaround strategy for embattled metros like Mooi-Mpofana which have, in the past, been plagued by maladministration, fraud and corruption.

“As a department that oversees municipalities‚ we’re intervening in the matter of imminent electricity switch-offs in municipalities by facilitating an urgent meeting with Eskom [for] the affected municipalities [to] find solutions that will satisfy the power utility and keep the lights on at Mpofana‚” the Cogta MEC noted in a statement.

Hlomuka was forced to act swiftly in his attempts to intervene the scheduled outages after residents of Bruntville threatened to picket on the N3 highway, rendering the Mooi River urban district ungovernable.

Related: IMF identifies Eskom as “a major risk” to South Africa’s growth

Eskom’s proposed outage schedule in Mooi-Mpofana

However, the power utility has stated that its hands are tied at this point, The metro’s failure to service its debt has left it with no other choice but to act in the interests of the national demand for electricity.

Thus, according to Eskom, between 8 and 14 July, the following power cuts will be implemented in the metro:

Monday to Friday: 6:00 – 9:00 and 17:00 – 20:30
Weekends: 9:30 – 12:00 and 15:00 – 19:00

Thereafter, from 15 July, the power utility will continue with scheduled outages between 6:00 – 8:00 throughout the week.

Unless Hlomuka manages to twist the power utility’s reluctant arm, it seems more than likely that the outage schedule will be implemented.

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