Durban - Head of electricity in eThekwini Municipality Maxwell Mthembu has appealed to indebted consumers, who are battling to settle their debts, to approach the city for help to pay off their municipal accounts.
He was speaking in the city’s recently launched podcast eThekwini Matters, where he gave details on the state of electricity infrastructure in the city, including an update on load shedding.
He reaffirmed that load shedding would only kick in when Eskom implemented Stage 4 power cuts, as the city currently had more than 200 megawatts that were not being used because its infrastructure was damaged in the April floods and some big industries in the city were not fully operational.
Mthembu said the 200 megawatts was equivalent to Stage 3 load shedding, hence the city would only participate in load shedding from Stage 4.
Speaking on the issue of debt and concerns that “well-to-do” families were sometimes counted among the people that were stealing municipal services, Mthembu said there was a need to instil a culture of consumers paying for the services they used.
He said the city was aware that the pandemic had affected residents.
“We are coming out of Covid-19, the families that were known before to be well-managed families are broken because the breadwinners of those families either lost their jobs or lost their lives, and now the people who were depending on them are staying in those beautiful homes and cannot afford to pay for the services.
“Having said that, we have a programme called 80-20 where we are saying everyone who owes the city, be it for rates, water or electricity or combined, should come to us in the electricity department and we will sign an agreement,” he said.
“We will sign an agreement, the acknowledgement of debt, and once we sign it we will ring-fence your debt and convert you to prepaid electricity,” he said.
“This is how 80-20 works: when you come to purchase your token, we give you 80% (of the value of the token) and 20% goes to the debt.”
Mthembu added that this would help the consumers pay their debt gradually.
He said under such an arrangement, the customer would still pay their current accounts and only their electricity would be on a prepaid meter.
Mthembu urged those who could afford to pay their accounts to do so.