The South African Local Government Association (Salga) says the installation of prepaid electricity meters will not entirely resolve the culture of non-payment.
During his budget speech last week, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said that municipalities owed Eskom over R56 billion for bulk energy from December last year.
Residents, especially in Soweto, have been resisting the installation of the meters since Eskom introduced them in 2013 to improve revenue collection.
Salga Head of Energy and Electricity Distribution, Nhlanhla Ngidi, says, “I think some municipalities will tell you that prepaid metering is not the entire solution. You could have all the technology you want but if you have not solved the social issues that we have and the economic issues that we have right now, you still going to see a whole lot of issues around payment.”
Meanwhile, some Soweto residents say they are not entirely opposed to the rollout of prepaid electricity meters.
However, they want them to be linked to a monthly flat rate.
Residents of Pimville in Soweto have led numerous marches against power cuts and the installation of the meters.
One of the community leaders, Mpumelelo Nomlomo, says, “We (are) definitely not objecting to prepaid meters. We are rather saying ‘Eskom, come, let us agree on a monthly rate.’ For example, if you buy a cell phone on contract for R200, you take that which you can afford, you don’t just take any other. Now, we want to get into those kinds of conversations with Eskom. To say, Eskom let us have R500 and 28-days of electricity with that R500. And if it goes off it goes off. And it is liable upon those that ought to pay that amount of money in order for them to get lights.”
Tshwane residents unhappy with pre-paid meters
In November last year, residents in Tshwane expressed dissatisfaction over new electricity prepaid meters.
Aggrieved residents under the Lotus, Atteridgeville, Saulsville Civic Association said what seemed like a wise move to tackle the non-payment of electricity in the municipality, has emerged as an exceedingly expensive exercise.
The association called on Eskom to intervene.
The municipality, however, said the R80 million project was aimed at improving cash collection for the city.
More details in the report below: