Power cuts in hospitals was the last resort: City Power

Several public hospitals are affected
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City Power says their threat to cut off power supply to hospitals was a last resort, as they could not get any payments from the Gauteng Department of Health for a while.

Yesterday, City Power said it was giving the department four hours to remove patients from the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital before it switched off power to the hospital.

The power utility says Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, Rahima Moosa Hospital and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital collectively, owe the entity more than R40 million.

However, the department says there are discrepancies in City Power’s billing system for the province’s hospitals because they have serviced most of the outstanding debts.

City power spokesperson Isaac Mangena says they have no choice but to apply intense measures.

“We need to understand that we are running a business as City Power. We pay Eskom billions annually to basically buy electricity which we are expected to sell to our customers in Johannesburg and government institutions. As such, if we are not going to collect as much as we should, then we will find ourselves in a difficult place financially and that’s where we find ourselves currently.”

“City power is basically at a loss. We are in the red. We are struggling with the maintenance of the infrastructure and with material needed to keep the lights on.”

Mangena says hospitals are not exempt from their financial obligations for services rendered by municipalities.

“Cable theft, vandalism of infrastructure, so you can see that we really need every cent that is sitting out there that’s owed to the city. So that we can be able to do this [maintenance]. The Health Department and hospitals are not excluded from this.”

“If they use electricity and we deliver that electricity on a daily basis, then they’ve got an obligation to make sure that they pay for services and they can get their lights on. It’s a difficult balancing act that we make for that account. So many millions, it means that we have been lenient. Other consumers if it’s just R30000, we come and cut you off,” adds Mangena.

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