Two au­thor­i­ties face Eskom switch-offs

Daily Dispatch - - News - By ZOLILE MENZELWA

A LAST-GASP deal pre­vented one of three East­ern Cape mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties – Ray­mond Mh­laba – from be­ing plunged into a pow­er­less sit­u­a­tion to­day.

This emerged late yes­ter­day af­ter a dif­fi­cult day of ne­go­ti­a­tions with Eskom over the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ col­lec­tive bill of R125-mil­lion.

The Ray­mond Mh­laba deal means the towns of Fort Beau­fort, Alice, Ade­laide and Bed­ford will con­tinue to have elec­tric­ity.

Ray­mond Mh­laba mayor Bandile Ketelo re­acted: “The mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s power sup­ply will not be in­ter­rupted and its cash flow will con­tinue to sus­tain the pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices.”

At the time of writ­ing yes­ter­day, Wal­ter Sisulu and Inx­uba Yethemba mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties had ap­par­ently not yet cut a deal with Eskom.

Eskom spokesman Zama Mpond­wana con­firmed yes­ter­day the plan to switch off lights to the two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from to­day­would go ahead as planned, given that “there are no pay­ment agree­ments reached so far”.

Inx­uba Yethemba cov­ers Cradock and sur­rounds while Wal­ter Sisulu in­cludes Ali­wal North and Burg­ers­dorp. The bills of the three mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties date back to July 2010, when mu­nic­i­pal en­ti­ties were dif­fer­ent.

Eskom has told mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties they would be “ma­te­ri­ally and ad­versely af­fected by the con­tem­plated in­ter­rup­tions of bulk sup­ply”.

Ray­mond Mh­laba has owed R21mil­lion from April 2016.

In Novem­ber, Eskom is­sued a warn­ing no­tice threat­en­ing to stop the elec­tric­ity sup­ply to the three.

From to­day out­ages will be­gin in Wal­ter Sisulu and Inx­uba Yethemba mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from 6am to 8am and 5pm to 7.30pm on Mon­days to Fri­days, and from 8.30am to 11am and 3pm to 5.30pm on Satur­days and Sun­days.

On Wed­nes­day, Ketelo said three op­tions for pay­ment were pre­sented to Eskom, but these were re­jected.

Ketelo said she had “se­cured the com­mit­ment of the MECs for fi­nance and co­op­er­a­tive gover­nance to join me in meet­ing se­nior Eskom of­fi­cials”.

Provin­cial trea­sury spokes­woman No­sisa So­gayise con­firmed her de­part­ment would be part of the meet­ing yes­ter­day.

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