Home News Concern over upsurge in number of defaulting NC municipalities

Concern over upsurge in number of defaulting NC municipalities

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The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass, pointed out that the provincial government was not in favour of municipalities not honouring their contractual obligations to Eskom in full

The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, Bentley Vass. File picture.

WHILE the electricity supply has been restored to three of the four Northern Cape municipalities that were cut off this week after defaulting on their Eskom payments, the provincial government has expressed concern at the increasing number of municipalities in the Province that cannot afford to pay the power utility.

Eskom restored electricity to the Kamiesberg and Richtersveld local municipalities on Wednesday evening, after the power was cut at 6am on Tuesday.

Eskom spokesperson Stefanie Jansen Van Rensburg said the electricity to the two municipalities was restored after they paid an “acceptable portion of their electricity debt” to Eskom.

“Adherence to their payment conditions will be strictly monitored and supply interruptions will be reinstated at the first sign of default,” she warned.

Bulk electricity supply to the Emthanjeni Local Municipality was also restored at 2pm yesterday after the local authority also made a payment to Eskom.

“Restriction of electricity supply to De Aar, Britstown and Hanover was implemented on October 7, 2020 due to the municipality’s non-payment of its Eskom debt totalling R90 543 096,” Jansen van Rensburg said.

Restriction of electricity supply to Tsantsabane Local Municipality (Postmasburg), however, continues and will proceed until the municipality pays an acceptable portion of its R154 909 143 debt.

The MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Bentley Vass, said in a press statement issued yesterday that the state of national disaster had unexpectedly affected every sphere of government, which had to adjust from normal business processes and adhere to the lockdown regulations.

“Municipal revenue collection has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in the inability to effectively implement credit control and debt collection measures.”

Vass pointed out that the provincial government was not in favour of municipalities not honouring their contractual obligations to Eskom in full.

“While we are mindful of the effects that the Eskom interruptions have, we also urge the consumers to do their part by paying for municipal services on time. As part of our continuous monitoring, municipalities are advised to strictly enforce their credit control and debt collection to all consumers.”

Vass added that upon discovery that Eskom intended to disconnect the services to the four municipalities, the department had vigorously engaged with Eskom and the municipalities to lead the way in resolving the current situation.

“In the process we assisted municipalities with their municipal accounts in order to allow government departments to speedily effect payments.”

Vass stated that the Municipal Debt Steering Committee had, in response to the debt crisis including Eskom, made great strides in successfully strengthening intergovernmental relations.

“As we slowly resume normal working activities the committee will proactively address issues resulting in non-payment to Eskom and subsequently avert future electricity disconnections.”

He said further that the provincial government had noted with great concern the upsurge in numbers of municipalities defaulting on their payment agreements with Eskom.

“Upon assessment, one of the reasons for this is the unrealistic payment agreements signed with Eskom. As a matter of urgency we have started bilateral meetings with municipalities and Eskom to review the payment agreements signed and ascertain the extent to which the municipalities are able to honour agreements, with the aim of coming up with realistically affordable repayment agreements.”