Municipalities owe Eskom more than R1 billion

Salga hopes to resolve Eskom issue

Mthobeli Kolisa, Salga's executive director of Municipal Infrastructure Services
Mthobeli Kolisa - Executive Director.jpg

Following Eskom's scare to cut the bulk electricity to the Matlosana Municipality in the North West, Eskom says at least 20 municipalities owe the company more than R1 billion in outstanding electricity fees.

The country's electricity suppier says municipal arrears have risen sharply over the past year, and reached R1.3-billion last month. 

Mpumalanga, Free State, North West and Gauteng are the provinces with the most municipalities in arrears – and include the municipalities of Nala, Moqhaka, Ventersdorp, Westonaria, Kannaland, Lekwa, Thaba Chweu, Govan Mbeki, Ngwathe, Maluti-Phofung, Teemane, Gariep, Naledi and Thabazimbi.

Last week, shock waves swept through the communities of Matlosana (R91.8-million in arrears) and Matjhabeng (R145m in arrears) when the parastatal issued notices of disconnection to the municipalities.

Eskom said in a statement that it issued disconnection notices only as a last resort, and it was required to follow processes, including giving affected customers the opportunity to make submissions before disconnections for non-payment.

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) executive director of municipal infrastructure services, Mthobeli Kolisa, said the huge amounts owed by municipalities were of huge concern.

He said in an interview with The Star that this affected the ability of Eskom to continue providing bulk electricity to municipalities, which then supply communities.

Kolisa said Salga had raised concerns that, as electricity prices rose, more consumers and middle-income households would default on paying their bills.

“It’s not the case of only municipalities struggling with this. Eskom is also struggling. Eskom was owed millions by the customers it was directly supplying with electricity," according to The Star. 

The exact figure of how much each of the municipalities owes Eskom, has not been made public as this was "confidential". Salga is currently looking to find a way to resolve the issue of municipal Eskom arrears, as it has huge implications for consumers if Eskom were to disconnect municipalities, according to Kolisa.

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