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Hospitals concerned after Eskom cuts municipal power supply

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Feb 17, 2017

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Johannesburg – The Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) said on Friday that it was gravely concerned by Eskom's decision to implement power cuts to two defaulting municipalities in Mpumalanga.

Eskom announced on Thursday that it would start implementing scheduled bulk power supply interruptions in eMalahleni and Msukaligwa municipalities.

The power supply interruption in the municipalities platforms started affect areas that include Doornpoort, Churchill, KwaGuqa, Witbank and Emerlo.

Eskom said in order to avoid power cuts, municipalities in arrears needed to forward agreed cash payments, a written undertaking in the form of a council resolution that the debt would be honoured and a payment plan for the amount owing supported by a municipality.

Given the scale of the outstanding debt owed to Eskom, reported to be in the region of R1 billion, it is reasonable to conclude that this matter may take some time to resolve.

The stated position of the municipalities that owe Eskom for power provided is that they do not have the money to repay. Hasa said even though hospitals were functioning through the use of back-up generators, these were not long-term solutions.

The hospital association said in a statement that the situation may constitute an ongoing risk to patients and those seeking medical assistance, including those who may need critical care.

"It is a matter therefore of urgency that the government acts through its relevant agencies to restore power to affected hospitals to ensure the provision of healthcare is not compromised," Hasa said.

"Similarly, it is urgent that Eskom recognises that the provision of healthcare through affected hospitals should not be compromised because of the failure of municipalities to resolve their debt obligations."

On Thursday, Eskom said: "The interruption of supply as a result of non-payment remains an agonising decision for Eskom and is a means of last resort. We take solace in the fact that we spared no effort to collect outstanding debts amicably."

Eskom was not immediately available for comment on Hasa's concerns on Friday.

African News Agency

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