Power interruptions imminent

LYDENBURG – Eskom’s national spokesman, Khulu Pasiwe, has confirmed to Steelburger/Lydenburg News that the expected interruption of bulk electricity to Thaba Chweu Local Municipality (TCLM) will go ahead on Monday. On Tuesday, Pasiwe confirmed that TCLM is on Eskom’s radar of non-paying municipalities.

“I can, unfortunately, confirm that the cutoff will take place on March 13. “We have not received any payment and no feasible repayment plan has been discussed. Should TCLM not make the full payment of R300 million or a reasonable down payment, we will interrupt the bulk electricity supply to the municipal region.”

There are only three days left to reach a suitable agreement between Eskom and TCLM before the disconnections. At a press conference held in Mbombela on March 1, the Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza dismissed the “quickfix” agreements entered into by the municipalities and the electricity public utility company.

“I am aware there have been engagements and agreements between our owing municipalities and Eskom. I am not going to agree on these settlements, and I am not going to stand surety to step in when they renege on the commitments. I don’t have trust in them with regard to settling the Eskom debt. I don’t know why I should keep certain people in their jobs because someone didn’t do his or her job. This quickfix thing won’t help. Our municipalities do not have the capacity to sell electricity and to collect revenue,” said Mabuza.

He suggested the municipalities should settle debt and consider handing back to Eskom the function of selling electricity. But getting municipalities to hand back the electricity is not that simple.

The utility’s media desk said that the Eskom and municipality licence areas are determined by the National Energy Regulator (Nersa). On Nersa’s website there is an application form that can be filled in for the amendment, transfer or revoking of an electricity distribution license.

“In terms of the Electricity Regulations Act, Section 16 gives the energy regulator further powers to amend, vary, suspend or remove any licence condition on the licence issued in terms of Section 13.”

If the disconnection does take place, the town will be without electricity from 06:00 to 08:00 and from 17:00 to 19:30 on weekdays. On weekends power will be disconnected from 08:30 to 11:00 and again from 15:00 to 17:30.

TCM confirmed that Eskom will continue with the cut-off. The acting municipal manager, Eugene Malungana said that they are still, despite the decision made by Eskom, busy with negotiations to remedy the situation. “It’s not looking good as Eskom is expecting millions which we don’t have. Eskom is insisting to see the money paid before Friday. Any new development will be communicated to you”.

Narda Vermaak

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