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NC municipalities feeling the pinch

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It is believed that Emthanjeni, which includes Britstown, De Aar, Hanover and surrounding areas, owes the power utility R81 million

SEVERAL Northern Cape municipalities are feeling the pinch as a further two local authorities face a daily 14-hour blackout for failing to pay Eskom.

Eskom yesterday issued a notice of its intention to discontinue electricity supply due to non-payment for services rendered to the Tsantsabane and Emthanjeni local municipalities in the Northern Cape.

“As a result of the two municipalities’ breach of payment conditions concluded with Eskom, electricity supply to Postmasburg (Tsantsabane) and to De Aar, Britstown and Hanover (Emthanjeni) will be discontinued from March 3 until the breaches are remedied,” the power utility said in a statement.

“Eskom recognises that the indefinite disconnection of electricity supply may cause undue hardship to consumers and members of the community, and may adversely affect the delivery of other services. In view of this, Eskom will implement a regulated interruption of electricity supply as opposed to an outright disconnection. The regulated interruption will allow members of the community and consumers the opportunity to make alternative arrangements for the scheduled periods of interruption.”

Disconnection

The discontinuation of electricity supply will result in temporary scheduled disconnection from 6am to 8pm on Monday to Sunday.

“Eskom advises all parties who are likely to be materially and adversely affected by the withholding of electricity supply services to take all necessary precautions to ensure safety of lives and to limit damages to their equipment, operations and business.”

It is believed that Emthanjeni, which includes Britstown, De Aar, Hanover and surrounding areas, owes the power utility R81 million.

The electricity disruption in the area is expected to have a major impact on residents as the area’s water supply relies on boreholes requiring consistency in power supply.

Earlier this month, Kamiesberg Local Municipality in the Northern Cape avoided daily 14-hour supply interruptions by making a sufficient payment to Eskom for electricity supplied to the municipality. As a result of the payment, the interruption, due to commence on February 18, was suspended.

The suspension would have affected electricity consumers in Garies, Kroonsig, Kamieskroon, Kheis, Nourivier, Paulshoek, Spoegrivier, Lepelsfontein and Klipfontein.

Meanwhile, employees of Khai-Ma Local Municipality were warned that they might not be paid on time.

The DA’s constituency head of Kamiesberg, Veronica van Dyk, said that the municipality had warned staff via a written notice that the possibility existed that employees might not be paid on the scheduled date of February 25.

“Instead employees could be in a situation where they would only receive their salaries sometime early in March,” Van Dyk said.

She pointed out that the municipal manager, Obakeng Isaacs, had blamed the municipality’s precarious state on outstanding debt of millions of rand owed to the municipality.

“The situation is unacceptable on a number of levels,” Van Dyk added. “It impacts significantly on the lives of employees and their families, who depend on this salary. It also smacks of financial mismanagement, failed revenue collection and what can only be described as an unfunded budget.”

By yesterday morning the staff had not yet been paid and it is believed that the local authority owes Eskom R20 million for electricity and Sedibeng R6 million for water.

Van Dyk meanwhile pointed out that Khai-Ma was just one of a growing number of broke local government institutions that have lost the ability to operate as a going concern.

“They are also just one of a number of municipalities teetering on the brink of collapse.”

The party has called on the MEC for Coghsta, Bentley Vass, together with the MEC for Provincial Treasury, Maruping Lekwene, to urgently meet with the municipality “to help them realign their budget, ring-fence funds intended for Eskom and salaries and implement a realistic debt-collection strategy”.