Eskom’s debt rises as it tries to get municipalities to pay

Eskom to disrupt power supply to the Masilonyana local municipality over failure to honour its debt.
Eskom to disrupt power supply to the Masilonyana local municipality over failure to honour its debt.

Eskom’s debt from municipalities keeps on rising‚ despite the power utility threatening the municipalities with power disruptions if they do not pay.

On Monday‚ Eskom announced that it would interrupt power supply to the Masilonyana local municipality from Wednesday for six-and-a-half hours a day during the week and for seven-and-a-half hours at the weekend after the municipality’s failure to meet its payment obligations.

Eskom said if no payment was made this week‚ power interruptions were scheduled to increase to 14 hours a day‚ from 6am to 10pm‚ beginning on October 24.

Eskom said it may‚ with 15 calendar days’ notice‚ serve the right to disconnect electricity entirely and indefinitely should the electricity debt situation not improve.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said on Tuesday that the municipality‚ which covered Brandfort‚ Theunissen‚ Verkeerdevlei and Winburg‚ owed Eskom R39.8m.

Phasiwe said the power utility was owed R16bn by the municipalities in the country‚ and that the figure kept on rising.

He said when Eskom appeared before parliament in March the figure stood at R14bn‚ and it rose to R15bn in August.

None of the municipalities have had their electricity supply interrupted for 14 hours a day as they usually paid the minimum amount due and reached a payment agreement with Eskom.

“The municipalities wait until the notice to interrupt power supply interruption is issued and then they make last-minute arrangements to pay the overdue debt‚” Phasiwe said.

He said the reason why the debt kept on rising was the arrears debt with interest and the current debt that was still being incurred by the municipalities.

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