State owes Eskom R189m in arrearsState owes Eskom R189m in arrears

Cape Town –Local,provincial and national governments owe Eskom nearly R189m in electricity arrears,Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan said on Wednesday.

The bulk of the debt,R162.7m,was owed by municipalities,Hogan said in reply to a parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance.

At the end of April,outstanding amounts owed by other government institutions,including national and provincial departments came to R26.2m,according to the minister,

She said the institutions which had fallen in arrears could include schools and clinics,but since their accounts were treated like all others they could not be listed separately.

The municipalities that had accumulated the biggest outstanding bills were in North West.

Ngwathe owed R26.9m,Moqhaka R24.2m,Matjhabeng R19.9m,Mafube R14.7m and Dihlabeng R8.1m.

Other municipalities in arrears included Ventersdorp and Randfontein,which respectively owed R5m and R4.7m.

Hogan said Eskom cut off electricity to defaulting municipalities only as “a last resort”and always after having ensured that essential services such as hospitals and sewage plants were not affected.

“This is done to avoid the disastrous impact that could follow.”

She said the cash-strapped electricity utility was talking to municipalities,mayors,MECs,premiers,the Treasury,the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa),and the departments of energy and cooperative governance to “find a solution to improve municipal payment levels”.

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