The race is on to ensure that electricity blackouts do not become a reality for municipalities in the North West, despite them failing to pay Eskom for the service it provides.
Eskom intends to implement power cuts in those regions, because it simply cannot afford to provide a free service, but the North West Department of Local Government and Human Settlements has since intervened, with the view to ensuring that those bills are eventually paid.
MEC for Local Government and Human Settlements Galaletsang Gaolaolwe said: “The MEC for Finance, Economy & Enterprise Development Wendy Nelson and myself, have been in constant communication with the affected municipalities to find ways to avert the situation.”
“The last engagements we had was on December 22, 2016 where we summoned the Mayors, Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers of affected municipalities under one roof to explain the reasons on the failure of payments to Eskom,” added MEC Gaolaolwe.
The municipalities in questions insist that they have been hamstrung by a cash flow crisis, which has been compounded by the drought situation in some regions. Municipal managers explained that money allocated for electricity had be shifted to other more pressing budgets, because of the drought.
That has also allowed for the debt with Eskom to increase dramatically. But plans have since been made to remedy that.
“We engaged with their reviewed payment plan to Eskom and all have submitted their new payment schedules to settle their debts. We are content that all defaulting municipalities will pay Eskom and avoid possible power cuts which will bring unnecessary disruptions and affect local economies,” said the MEC.
Municipalities with high electricity debts are Naledi, Ditsobotla and Madibeng. If the structured power cuts go ahead, they will see services in affected municipalities being disrupted during peak times in the mornings and evenings.