Eskom ordered to give municipalities time to clear arrears

Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown has also urged municipalities to move with speed to clear the backlog of non-payments.

FILE: Eskom flags at Megawatt Park in Johannesburg. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprise Minister Lynne Brown has instructed Eskom to give municipalities until the end of this month to clear their outstanding arrears before switching off their lights.

At the same time, Brown has urged municipalities to move with speed to clear the backlog of non-payments.

Earlier in January, the High Court in Pretoria granted Eskom permission to cut power supply to eight municipalities as it tries to recover billions of rand in debt.

The minister says the cutting of power supply has potentially disastrous effects on businesses and therefore have an impact on jobs.

Brown says it is critical for all municipalities to institute prepaid billing to help build a payment culture.

“We must move towards prepaid so that we can help customers to manage their own usage of electricity.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Eskom signed agreements with 21 of the 34 defaulting municipalities to recoup unpaid bills worth R10.2 billion.

Eskom says municipalities that have made arrangements to pay their bills, will no longer face cuts.

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said: “So far we have over 20 municipalities that have signed payment agreements with Eskom and have also started making payments into Eskom's account.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)