Municipalities' R63.2bn debt hindering Eskom's ability to function at full capacity, says Ramokgopa

Minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. File photo.
Minister of electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says the debt of more than R60bn owed by municipalities is hindering Eskom's ability to function at full capacity.

Ramokgopa, in his weekly energy action plan briefing, said poor maintenance and unpaid debt were among the reasons some communities go without electricity long after load-shedding.

Municipalities owe Eskom R63.2bn, with 20 accounting for 77% of the debt. 

“There are a number of municipalities that have entered into agreements. They fail to live up to those agreements because their revenue base has been eroded. They are unable to sustain those agreements.”  

Ramokgopa said failure to pay Eskom undermines its ability to service and maintain the electricity distribution network, resulting in replenishment budgets being depleted on fixing repeat breakdowns of substations and other transmission units.

“There's a bigger problem. We are working with Eskom and the head of distribution [Monde Bala] and his team to ensure we are able to find sustainable solutions to the problem.”

Ramokgopa said he was also meeting the National Treasury and South African Local Government Association to try to address the debt.

“Communities are not able to get the electricity they deserve, that they have paid for, as a result of failure of infrastructure.”

Last week, Ramokgopa said Johannesburg will have load-shedding while it hosts the 15th Brics summit at the Sandton Convention Centre from Tuesday to Thursday.

“For as long as generation does not meet demand, there is going to be load-shedding,” said Ramokgopa.

“Johannesburg will be expected, if there is load-shedding on the day, to make its contribution to ensure we protect the grid. How they allocate that, they will make that determination.

“If you happen not to see load-shedding on the day, it might be two things. One, we don’t have load-shedding by Eskom or, if there is no load-shedding at the Brics events, it could be they are not on schedule as per Johannesburg’s schedule.”


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