Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Eskom’s debt from municipalities keeps on rising‚ despite the power utility threatening the municipalities with power disruptions if they do not pay.

On Monday‚ Eskom announced it would interrupt power supply to the Masilonyana local municipality from Wednesday for six-and-a-half-hours a day during the week and for seven-and-a-half-hours at the weekend after the municipality’s failure to meet its payment obligations.

Eskom said that if no payment is made this week‚ power interruptions are scheduled to increase to 14 hours a day‚ from 6am to 8pm‚ starting on October 24.

Eskom said it may‚ with 15 calendar days’ notice‚ reserve the right to disconnect electricity entirely and indefinitely should the electricity debt situation not improve.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said on Tuesday that the municipality‚ which covers Brandfort‚ Theunissen‚ Verkeerdevlei and Winburg‚ owed Eskom R39.8m. Phasiwe said the power utility was owed R16bn by some municipalities in the country‚ and that the figure keeps on rising; when Eskom appeared before parliament in March the figure was R14bn‚ but rose to R15bn in August.

None of the municipalities have had their electricity supply interrupted for 14 hours a day as they usually paid the minimum amount due and reached a payment agreement with Eskom.

“The municipalities wait until the notice to interrupt power supply is issued and then they make last-minute arrangements to pay the overdue debt‚” Phasiwe said, adding that the reason why the debt keeps on rising is the arrear debt with interest and the current debt still being incurred by the municipalities.