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Don’t expect a payment holiday from Eskom

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“Due to similar financial hardship experienced by Eskom, it is unfortunately not in a position to offer customers a payment holiday.”

Cape Town – Eskom said it will not offer customers a payment holiday despite the financial hardships many may be experiencing during the lockdown.

Eskom was responding to a report that the SA Local Government Association (Salga) had reached out, asking that the power utility grant municipalities a payment holiday.

Eskom’s spokesperson, Nomaswazi Shongwe, said: “Eskom has been approached by some municipalities requesting a payment holiday.

“Eskom is evaluating each of these requests on its merits, and will respond directly to the respective municipalities.”

Shongwe said: “Eskom is mindful of the financial hardship many customers may experience during this challenging period in our history, however, due to similar financial hardship experienced by Eskom, it is unfortunately not in a position to offer customers a payment holiday.”

Salga had said during a virtual meeting with Parliament’s portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) on Tuesday that it was in consultation with Eskom on behalf of municipalities for a payment holiday, because municipalities were unable to service their debt due to the Covid-19 lockdown, and the loss of revenue.

Salga’s Lance Joel said: “With job losses there are reduced incomes in households, and therefore a reduction in revenue collections by municipalities for services rendered. Water and electricity consumption by industries have also been severely reduced, which impact negatively on the coffers of municipalities.”

Joel said: “We have instructed municipalities to not suspend services during the lockdown. Just as municipalities have suspended cutting services, Eskom should suspend all electricity disconnections for the duration of the lockdown and review the interest payable on arrears caused by and linked to the lockdown.”

“Municipalities have embraced this suggestion and we are hoping Eskom will come on board and not worsen things,” he said.

“On behalf of municipalities, Salga is in consultation with Eskom for a payment holiday for municipalities.

“Municipalities should not have to pay Eskom as they are unable to service their debt. Salga is also requesting Eskom not to disconnect the electricity supply to its consumers if they do not pay up,” Joel said.

At the meeting, the chairperson of the Cogta portfolio committee, Faith Muthambi, refused to back Salga’s request.

Muthambi said: “The committee is of the opinion that municipalities must pay for services rendered by Eskom, as Eskom already has cost-recovery measures in place to recoup the funds owed to it by municipalities.”

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus