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Mon Jun 27 00:34:18 CAT 2016

Eskom punishes residents with peak-time power cuts as municipalities fail to pay

TMG Digital | 29 January, 2016 08:32
The announcement that Eskom had lost patience with outstanding debts was made clear in April 2015‚ when Eskom announced plans to interrupt bulk electricity supply to the top 20 defaulting municipalities across the country‚ with effect from June last year. File photo

Top-selling crime author Deon Meyer made the Upper Karoo town of Loxton famous‚ but now its residents and potential tourists are in the dark.

The optimistically named Ubuntu municipality has failed its constituents as Eskom acts on its threat to enforce electricity interruptions if local governments do not pay outstanding debts.

In a terse statement on Friday‚ Eskom said five Northern Cape municipalities would be disconnected from peak-time electricity supplies today: - Magareng (affecting the town of Warrenton) - Thembelihle (Strydenburg and Hopetown) - Dikgatlong (Barkly West) - Renosterberg (Petrusville and Philipstown) and - Ubuntu (Victoria West‚ Richmond and Loxton).

Loxton is well known to Deon Meyer fans as it is where he has a weekend retreat‚ and his character Lemmer has a home. Meyer’s photographs of the area are available for download as desktop wallpapers on his website.

“Supply will be disconnected between 07:00 - 10:00 and 18:00 - 20:00 only in the mentioned municipalities. Please note‚ Eskom is not load shedding‚” the electricity utility said.

“This is due to the municipalities defaulting on existing payment terms and payment arrangements.”

In December‚ many Karoo towns were left without electricity when Eskom went ahead with the disconnection of bulk electricity supply to four municipalities‚ prompting an intervention from the Eastern Cape provincial government to suspend the outages.

The affected municipalities – Gariep‚ Nxuba‚ Maletswai and Ikwezi– owe the power utility a combined R168-million.

The main towns affected were Aliwal North‚ Burgersdorp‚ Steynsburg‚ Jansenville‚ Adelaide and Bedford.

The announcement that Eskom had lost patience with outstanding debts was made clear in April 2015‚ when Eskom announced plans to interrupt bulk electricity supply to the top 20 defaulting municipalities across the country‚ with effect from June last year.

This represented about 3.8 million people‚ or 7% of the population. The total municipal arrears debt greater than 30 days was R4.6 billion as at March 31‚ Eskom said in a statement then. Subsequently‚ most of the municipalities made a commitment to pay up.

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