First interruptions for eMalahleni done and dusted

Until Emalahleni Local Municipality can come to a new arrangement with Eskom, residents will be without electricity twice a day.

Eskom started their bulk interruptions on Thursday, February 16 and they are not budging until the municipality also comes to the table with new proposals.

All the municipality’s current accounts are up to date, but Eskom wants R277-million for outstanding debt.

“The municipality is making daily payments towards this and is continuing with its initiatives whereby the community is incentivised and/or cut off in enhanced credit control measures whilst it is busy mobilising a significant capital amount. The unfortunate reality is that the history has proven that despite such efforts there is a high level of inability or reluctance by those owing the municipality to settle their arrears. This has now finally caught up with us and unlike the three previous years where we could tap on bulk resources to prevent cut off, we are now really dependent on all to act in the interest of the community,” said Mr Kingdom Mabuza, municipal spokesperson.

The municipality is taking bold steps and started cutting electricity to several government building like Witbank Magistrate Court and also the Piet Koornhof Building wherein several government departments are housed.
Government owes the municipality close to R25-million on outstanding service delivery fees.

Businesses that are also in arrears were also cut.

“Should the payments follow soon we may be able to move close to the required target in a few days. The Executive Mayor, Cllr Lindiwe Ntshalintshali and other members of council walked the streets with officials to assist and guide these operations and set an example that this issue is an issue for all of us,” said Mabuza.

The municipality met with police, the business sector and Eskom to ensure that coordinated management plans in place to deal with any unplanned consequences of the untimely power interruptions.

The municipality undertook to publish emergency numbers of the combined operations centre on their Facebook page.
The municipal traffic- and disaster teams are on duty and so far have dealt with the incidents that surfaced on the first day the interruptions.

Water outages are also encountered during the electricity disruptions.

15% of the municipality’s purification capacity and the ability to pump between areas were lost.
The municipality is engaging with Eskom to place the main pump stations, purification plant and command reservoirs on a separate line to prevent running into a water crisis.

“In principle they agreed and we hope by today we may have resolved this issue,” said Mabuza.

During power interruptions the network is exposed to increased cable theft and vandalism. Report any suspicious activities to the municipality should you become aware of such.

“Should your electricity not return within minutes after the load shedding times please report this as what we also have experienced today is that in some cases the system trip or return of load cause cable bursts. We need to immediately be made aware so to minimise further down time,” Mabuza concluded

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Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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