Port Elizabeth - The Makana Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape, formerly Grahamstown, has promised panicked residents that they will not experience extended load shedding of up to 14 hours per day.
Eskom placed advertisements in local newspapers earlier this month indicating that Makhanda’s electricity would be switched off for between four and 14 hours a day.
Eskom had earlier issued a notice of intention to cut power supply to the municipality due to non-payment. The embattled Municipality owes Eskom in the region of R84 million with the debt dating back to 2013.
The Makana Municipality reportedly has until Monday to respond to a high court notice of motion calling for it to intervene in Eskom’s plans to switch off electricity in Makhanda for extended periods of the day.
Makana Mayor, Mzukisi Mpahlwa, said he understood that the notice issued by Eskom has caused great panic and anxiety among local residents and businesses alike.
"We empathise with all of you and we would like you to know that we are actively addressing this issue. I would like to take this opportunity to assure everyone that the municipality has acted swiftly to avert an interruption to our bulk electricity services as stated in the notice that was issued by Eskom."
Mpahlwa said that Makana had experienced severe cash flow problems since 2013 with Eskom being the municipality's biggest creditor. He said the municipality planned to pay an amount of R12.6 million to Eskom this month.
"We will also seek to renegotiate our payment plan to ensure that we can afford to make monthly payments to Eskom. Once this payment is made we don’t expect Eskom to go ahead with bulk supply interruptions," he said.
Senior officials together with the support of officials from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) are expected to meet with Eskom in the coming week to review the current payment plan.
"Despite all our financial challenges we have been able to pay our Eskom current account. Installments for the bulk account arrears are being paid on time as it is timed to coincide with the receipt of the Equitable Share. However the payment plan also requires the monthly account to be paid on time every month. The bulk account ranges between R7.5 million in summer to R17 million in winter."
Mpahlwa said the current situation of using the equitable share to pay Eskom was not sustainable and going forward the municipality needed to pay its current account from revenue generated from electricity sales.
African News Agency/ANA