Soweto is Eskom’s largest non-municipal area debtor, owing a massive R12 billion in total unpaid debt to the national utility.
This was revealed by the company today at a briefing to the Department of Co-opertive Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Soweto’s, which falls under the City of Joburg municipality, current debt is R5 billion, excluding interest, when past debt is added, the bill adds up to R12 billion.
To curb this excessive debt, Eskom has been over the past two years installing prepaid meters across the township.
Over 40 000 prepaid meters have been installed to date and more than 14 000 Sowetan customers have been cut off due to non-payment. Eskom did not specify the period during which these customers were cut off and when/if they’d been reconnected.
Municipal debt to Eskom
Eskom has always had ongoing battles with municipalities who don’t pay their electricity bills.
It has had recent issues with 66 municipalities who were threatened with bulk supply power cuts for owing a cumulative amount of R10.2 billion.
Of the R10.2 billion, about R7.4 billion is owed by municipalities in three provinces, namely the Free State, Mpumalanaga and the North West.
Of these 66 owning municipalities, 54 have reached settlement agreements with the power utility.
Maluti a Phofung in the Free State is the countries biggest municipal debtor, owing R1.6 billion to Eskom, followed by Matjhabeng, also in the Free State, at R1.2 billion.
“Over R1.3 billion of the outstanding amount has been recovered between November 2016 and January 2017, reducing the debt by R700 million,” Eskom executives said.
According to Eskom, the solution to municipal debt is installing prepaid meters. It also said it will change the payment period on municipal bulk accounts from 15 days to 30 days.
[Image – CC2.0, Tracy Hunter]