“As at end July, total current accounts equal R8.7bn; arrears equal R2.7bn,” Eskom acting spokesman Andrew Etzinger said in an e-mail sent to Sapa.
He was responding to questions on reports that municipalities around the country owed Eskom R10.8bn at the end of June this year.
This total was given by Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan earlier this week in a written reply to a parliamentary question.
Asked to what Eskom attributed the apparent steep rise in municipalities’ power bills, Etzinger said: “In the main, debt is increasing due to inability of some municipalities to fully recover revenue within their service territories.”
According to reports, the amount municipalities owed Eskom in October last year totalled R3bn.
However, Eskom was hopeful most of the arrears would be sorted out by the end of the month.
“We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved by end August, with either payment or a reasonable payment plan forthcoming.”
On whether the utility would start getting tough with municipalities that did not pay on time, he said Eskom issued disconnection notices to three Free State municipalities last month.
“Cut-offs were averted through intervention by national government,” Etzinger said.
In his written reply, Gordhan said his department had been “engaging with all parties concerned to find a constructive solution to the challenge”.
According to Gordhan, the biggest debtor was City Power, of the City of Johannesburg, which owed R1.075bn.
The parliamentary question was posed by Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa.
In a statement
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