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Proposed Eskom power cuts to worsen situation in Grahamstown: DA

Apr 13, 2015
Proposed Eskom power cuts to worsen situation in Grahamstown: DA

Eskom’s proposed plans to interrupt the bulk electricity supply to the struggling Makana Local Municipality, which is based in Grahamstown, will cripple the local economy and have a devastating impact on its already troubled water supply, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has warned.

“Makana Municipality is one of the top 20 defaulting municipalities across the country that Eskom intends cutting off starting in June this year. As of January this year Makana Municipality owed Eskom almost R60 million with as much as R53 million overdue,” says DA MP, Andrew Whitfield.

Last week, Eskom announced plans to introduce power cuts on weekdays from 6 – 10am, and 5 – 9pm in the evening from June.

“This will have a negative impact on Grahamstown’s biggest economic event of the year, the National Arts Festival,” says Whitfield.

“Studies conducted in the past indicate that the festival generates as much as R90 million for the Grahamstown economy and as much as R300 million to the Eastern Cape providing a major boost to jobs and economic growth.

“Furthermore, water supply in Grahamstown relies on a reliable electricity supply to drive pumps that provide water to the town.

“The ongoing water crisis and the improvements that are being made will be dealt a devastating blow if Eskom’s plans go ahead.”

He said another DA MP, Natasha Mazzone has written to Minister Brown asking her to immediately instruct Eskom to halt this plan until she has fully engaged all the various stakeholders as to the best way forward to recoup this money owed to Eskom and insist that:

All revenue raised by municipalities through the resale of electricity should be ring-fenced for the payment of amounts owed to Eskom; and that these funds be used for the upgrading and maintenance of electricity infrastructure.

Last week, the DA Shadow Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Kevin Mileham, wrote to Minister Gordhan requesting an urgent meeting to discuss halting all plans to cut essential services to municipalities who are unable to make their electricity payments.

“The people of Makana have already suffered so much at the hands of this ANC run municipality. To punish them for the ANC’s ineptitude is unjust and unfair,” Whitfield says.