City awaits Eskom re­sponse to plan

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLENNAN

Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity is await­ing a re­sponse from Eskom to its lat­est pay­ment plan.

This is the third ver­sion of a pro­posal for pay­ing off the R53 mil­lion that re­mains of Makana’s debt to the power util­ity.

It is a bid to stave off threats of power in­ter­rup­tions to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity that formed part of an ul­ti­ma­tum is­sued last month.

On 7 De­cem­ber, Eskom pub­lished a no­tice in a re­gional news­pa­per say­ing that Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity was in breach of its pay­ment obli­ga­tion to it and that Eskom was con­tem­plat­ing a reg­u­lated in­ter­rup­tion of elec­tric­ity sup­ply dur­ing cer­tain hours. At the time, Makana’s debt amounted to R58.05m.

Eskom re­jected Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s ini­tial re­pay­ment plan that would have seen the pay­ment of the fi­nal tranche in 2020.

Stip­u­lat­ing that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity must pay R23m by the end of March, Eskom also re­quested a new pay­ment plan by 10 Jan­uary. In re­sponse to ques­tions, yes­ter­day act­ing mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Riana Meir­ing con­firmed that the pay­ment plan had been sent to Eskom on the agreed date.

“I re­ceived it back from Eskom, yes­ter­day [Wed­nes­day] and they re­quested mi­nor ad­just­ments which will be ef­fected [Thurs­day]. The re­vised plan will be sent off [Thurs­day],” Meir­ing said.

Last week Afrifo­rum lost a court bid to pre­vent Eskom from cut­ting off ser­vices to 10 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, seven in the Free State and three in North West, that to­gether owe Eskom around R700m. In an in­ter­view last week, Meir­ing told Gro­cott’s Mail she was con­fi­dent that the out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions with Eskom would be suc­cess­ful.

In its no­tice, Eskom in­vited rep­re­sen­ta­tions, sub­mis­sions and com­ments from the public with a dead­line of 13 Jan­uary.

The Gra­ham­stown Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion has said it would sub­mit a re­sponse.

“While Gra­ham­stown Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion is op­ti­mistic that the ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Makana mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Eskom will re­sult in fresh agree­ment to pay off the debts to Eskom, GRA still rec­om­mends that peo­ple sub­mit rep­re­sen­ta­tions be­cause the threat by Eskom to im­ple­ment power cuts has not been re­moved,” sec­re­tary Tim Bull said.

The let­ter sent to Eskom by GRA on be­half of its mem­bers can be viewed at: http:// gra­ham­stown­res­i­dentsas­so­ci­a­tion.co.za/wp-con­tent/up­loads/2016/04/EskomLet­ter11Jan17.pdf

Key points that GRA made in their let­ter to Eskom in­clude that they should:

• Con­sider other more ef­fec­tive tac­tics rather than the eco­nomic de­struc­tion that would be caused by cut­ting sup­plies in a very poor part of the coun­try;

• Re­view the ex­traor­di­nar­ily high in­ter­est charge ap­plied by Eskom to the Makana LM ac­count;

• Adopt a sup­port­ive ap­proach to re­solv­ing the R14 mil­lion ad­just­ment, which should be treated as a sep­a­rate item from the other long-stand­ing debt;

• Work with the govern­ment to solve the prob­lem sys­tem­i­cally coun­try­wide, “as it is not a mat­ter of one or two delin­quent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties”.

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