JOHANNESBURG - Power utility Eskom said on Friday it was left with no choice but to intermittently cut electricity supply to Free State's Tokologo Municipality after debt repayment negotiations failed.

''After allowing the municipality a grace period to meet Eskom’s terms to settle its outstanding debt of R36,464,659.52 for the bulk supply of electricity, Eskom is left with no choice but to further intensify the ongoing scheduled supply interruptions to the municipality,'' Eskom said in a statement. 

Areas such as Boshof, Dealesville, Hertzogville and Seretse were currently being interrupted for six and a half hours per day. Interruptions will over the weekend be increased to 14 hours per day.

''Eskom urges all electricity consumers in the affected towns to make sufficient arrangements to limit personal and business loss and to ensure that effective contingency measures are in place to prevent serious injury or loss of life that might result from the scheduled interruptions.''

Municipalities in the Free State, North West, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga owed the power utility billions of rands in unpaid electricity bills. Eskom had in 2016 begun payment negotiations with the defaulting municipalities, with some honouring the agreements to avoid power cuts.

A high court bid by civil organisation Afriforum to interdict Eskom's plans to cut power supply to the owing municipalities failed in the high court last year. Afriforum argued that the decision to cut electricity supply to municipalities would have a negative impact on businesses and residents, who would end up paying for the municipalities’ failures.

Eskom advised consumers at Tokologo to come up with own contingency plans.

''Eskom urges all electricity consumers in the affected towns to make sufficient arrangements to limit personal and business loss, and to ensure that effective contingency measures are in place to prevent serious injury or loss of life that might result from the scheduled interruptions.''

African News Agency/ANA