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Furious Free State owners face cuts

28 Oct 2010

Property owners and rate payers in at least eight Free State towns are likely to be furious after Eskom issued notices that the supply to these towns would be suspended unless the outstanding arrears are paid.

The towns are Kroonstad, Viljoenskroon, Steynsrus, Parys, Vredefort, Heilbron, Koppies and Edenville. The towns have until 23 November to pay the utility for electricity used by its residents and paid for by them too.

The Democratic Alliance’s deputy shadow minister for energy, David Ross says the towns face suspension because the electricity accounts with Eskom have not been paid.

Ross says the ordinary South Africans should not be held responsible for the maladministration of dysfunctional municipalities.

The DA said the information was contained in the two public participation notifications to discuss the possible termination of the electricity supply to the Ngwathe and Moqhaka municipalities in the northern Free State.

The notifications indicate that the Ngwathe municipality (Parys) owes more than R21,2-million and the Moqhaka municipality owes Eskom more than R32,7-million.

Eskom has confirmed the public participation notices.

Ross said in an unprecedented move the power utility now expects interested parties such as ratepayers’ groups and "the likes" to make presentations to the retail manager of Eskom why the power should or should not be terminated.

Ross said the fact was the fault lay not with ordinary citizens but with ANC municipalities who had chronically failed to pay their electricity bills.

The notices indicate that written comments indicating why Eskom should or should not proceed with the proposed disconnection must be submitted to retail manager Zuhdi Hamza by Monday, 8 November 2010.

The comments could either be faxed, sent by email or be delivered by hand at the Eskom Centre in Henry Street, Bloemfontein.

The Free State government set up a special task team to help Free State municipalities faced with similar disconnections three months ago.

No power cuts were necessary then after payments were made in time.

Provincial government spokesman Wisani Ngobeni said the task team had reported to the provincial executive committee on its findings since then.

"There will be further engagement on the matter looking at various short and long term solutions."

He said the provincial government would continue helping struggling municipalities, specifically in terms of revenue collecting.

The DA again urged Energy Minister Dipuo Peters and the Free State MEC for Co-operative Governance, Mosibenzi Zwane, to intervene and protect the energy security of residents.

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Paddy Hartdegen

Paddy Hartdegen

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