Durban - A group of more than 60 KwaZulu-Natal electrical contractors and suppliers is considering legal action against Eskom, which has not paid them for services they have rendered since last year.
The contractors said they had been quiet about the matter, but were now compelled to make the public aware of the crisis. The non-payment had caused them to incur debts and have their assets repossessed by banks.
A spokesman for the contractors, Bheki Nxele, said they had now downed tools and, as a result, about 80 electrification projects across the province had been stopped.
The projects included the electrification of schools, clinics and homes.
“There is nothing happening and people (contractors) are up in arms,” he said.
The contractors’ work involved the installation of utility poles, connection of electricity from sub-stations to households and maintenance of electricity supply.
Nxele said there had been a good working relationship until October last year when the contractors first did not receive payments for work done.
He said they had been promised compensation ever since, but had still not been paid.
“Some contractors have been liquidated and others are in the process of being liquidated. (The) contractors owe suppliers and many suppliers have closed down,” he said.
Last week, Eskom representatives held a meeting with the contractors. Nxele said they asked if they should dismantle their teams or downsize, but Eskom said they should not.
“They said they are still going to give us more work once they have sort the problem out,” he said.
Another contractor, who did not want to be identified, said he had heard that Eskom would not be able to pay them until the next financial year. He said he was close to liquidating. Eskom had asked him to design vehicles exactly to their specifications and he had also paid for training for his workers.
Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said: “We can confirm that there are contractors who have not been paid yet. An investigation has been launched, but we cannot disclose the details until the process has been completed.”
He said Eskom was working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
“We will ensure that infrastructure and related programmes are delivered.” - The Mercury