Eskom to con­tinue mu­nic­i­pal power cuts

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

ESKOM yes­ter­day ruled out ditch­ing “blan­ket” in­ter­rup­tions to de­fault­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, even though some of the af­fected elec­tric­ity users have been pay­ing their bills.

This fol­lows yes­ter­day’s call by the SA Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (Sacci) for Eskom to re­con­sider its ap­proach as it al­legedly prej­u­diced pay­ing cus­tomers.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe yes­ter­day said the de­fault­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties owned distri­bu­tion in­fra­struc­ture “so it is not pos­si­ble for us to iso­late pay­ing cus­tomers from the non-pay­ers. We can­not dic­tate to the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties how they must treat their cus­tomers.

“In the ar­eas where we do the distri­bu­tion our­selves, we know ex­actly who is pay­ing and who is not. We know that in a num­ber of in­stances the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have been paid by elec­tric­ity users.”

Eskom sells elec­tric­ity to a num­ber of cus­tomers, in­clud­ing to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which dis­trib­ute power to end users. About 180 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are li­censed to dis­trib­ute elec­tric­ity.

In­ter­rup­tions

Eskom yes­ter­day com­menced with power in­ter­rup­tions to the de­fault­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Ac­cord­ing to Phasiwe, the power util­ity yes­ter­day morn­ing in­ter­rupted power sup­ply to the Ven­ters­dorp and Naledi mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

The in­ter­rup­tion, from 6am to 8am, af­fected Ven­ters­dorp, Tsh­ing town­ship, Ap­ple­draai, Buf­felsvlei, Boikhutso, To­evlug, Doornkop, Vry­burg and Stella. Phasiwe said yes­ter­day’s power cuts af­fected ap­prox­i­mately 90 000 cus­tomers.

Eskom said the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties dowe more than R10 bil­lion, which grew over the past eight months from R6bn. In the last five years, the over­due debt has in­creased 10 times, with the March fore­cast be­ing in ex­cess of R12bn.

Eskom’s move has rat­tled busi­nesses as the power cuts will af­fect their oper­a­tions.

Sacci, whose mem­bers com­prise 20 000 small, medium and large en­ter­prises across var­i­ous eco­nomic sec­tors, warned against “blan­ket” elec­tric­ity cuts.

Sacci’s Alan Mukoki said yes­ter­day that most elec­tric­ity users had paid their bills to the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. “It is un­fair to pe­nalise ev­ery­one be­cause the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has not paid,” Mukoki said.

Catas­tro­phe

JSE-listed poul­try pro­ducer Astral last week said the sched­uled power in­ter­rup­tions would af­fect its feed and poul­try oper­a­tions in the Lekwa mu­nic­i­pal­ity in Mpumalanga. Astral chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Schutte de­scribed the power in­ter­rup­tions as a catas­tro­phe.

“A ma­jor part of Astral’s oper­a­tions is the live­stock busi­ness, thus any form of power cuts have a se­vere im­pact on the con­tin­u­ous sup­ply chain of the in­te­grated busi­ness, with dire con­se­quences,” Schutte said.

Phasiwe said the util­ity planned to pro­ceed with next Mon­day’s power in­ter­rup­tions to Lekwa, eMalahleni, Mkhondo, Mbombela, Msukaligwa and Chief Al­bert Luthuli mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Mpumalanga.

Af­fected towns in­clude Doorn­poort, Kwaguqa, Witbank, Churchill, Piet Retief, Am­s­ter­dam, Mbombela Sta­dium/Ilanga Mall, River­side/ Nel­sriv­ier, White River, Nel­spruit, Stander­ton, Ermelo, Carolina Town and Silo­bela.

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