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Municipalities face crisis over power cuts

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'Eskom is a monopoly, protected by government regulations preventing free competition that would provide businesses and other consumers with alternative sources of electricity'

File image: INLSA

AS MORE municipalities in the Northern Cape face electricity cuts due to non-payment of their Eskom bills, AfriBusiness has announced that it is stepping in to avert economic crises in local municipalities countrywide.

The organisation said in a statement yesterday that Eskom, notwithstanding municipalities being in arrears, was unjustifiably threatening to withhold electricity from businesses and other end users on prepaid and with fully paid-up accounts.

The organisation has invited its members and the public to submit evidence of Eskom’s intention to cut power, including notices and short descriptions of the situation, on its website.

According to AfriForum, towns and municipalities potentially affected include Barkly West (Dikgatlong Local Municipality) in the Northern Cape.

Piet le Roux, CEO of AfriBusiness, stated that Eskom’s actions appeared administratively flawed, unjust and counter productive.

“Eskom is a monopoly, protected by government regulations preventing free competition that would provide businesses and other consumers with alternative sources of electricity. Moreover, people are forced to pay Eskom via delinquent local authorities that essentially act as Eskom’s agents to collect revenue, yet fail to transfer the money to Eskom. Now Eskom wants to cut electricity not only to consumers who are up to date with their accounts, but even to those who have purchased prepaid electricity.”

He added that the harm to local economies would be extensive and would plunge affected municipalities into a downward spiral. “And this is not even considering the humanitarian consequences when hospitals, schools, sewerage works, traffic lights and other public benefit infrastructure lose power,” Le Roux added.

According to Eskom’s website, Gasegonyan Municipality in Kuruman will be the next town in the Province to face electricity interruptions from Tuesday next week.

Notices were also published in the media this week of the utility company’s intention to interrupt bulk supply to Magereng (Warrenton) and Dikgatlong (Barkly West) from May 29.