The City of Johannesburg is in discussions to take over electricity supply in parts of the city from power utility Eskom, says newly-elected mayor Mpho Moerane.
Moerane told eNCA that the agreement would see the city take ownership of several key areas, including:
- Orange Farm;
- Ivory Park;
Moerane said that the initial discussions between the city and Eskom had focused on Soweto, with residents complaining about a lack of service delivery and power outages. Despite several write-offs and years of collection battles, the township’s residents currently owe Eskom around R7.5 billion in unpaid electricity debt.
Rather than continuing to serve the area, Eskom has instead approved the transfer of Soweto and other suburbs directly to the City of Johannesburg through its own power subsidiary, City Power, Moerane said.
While a formal memorandum of understanding is still being formulated between the city and Eskom, the mayor said that the city already plans to introduce its own power scheme to improve collections.
“You have to understand that the people of Soweto are not the same – there are people who can afford to pay electricity and those who cannot, so we will be introducing an energy mix. We have realised that people don’t use gas, so we will be introducing that as an option.”
Moerane said that the city also plans to partner with the private sector to roll out solar panels so that feer residents depend on the grid. Johannesburg also plans to hold a bid for new waste-to-energy plants, which will see refuse collected by the city turned into energy, he said.
R200 flat rate
Soweto residents meanwhile, are advocating R200 monthly flat rate system for electricity, citing affordability issues among residents.
Community leader Michael Mosiuoa said many Soweto residents are pensioners who cannot afford prices currently calculated by the city and Eskom. “We are proposing a flat rate of R200 per month. The people of Soweto are prepared to pay. They have never made the mistake of not paying,” he said.
In July, the City of Johannesburg and other major metropoles introduced above-inflation increases for essential services, including a 14.59% hike for electricity.
The Johannesburg Property Owners & Managers Association (JPOMA) said that the tariff increases pointed to a complete disregard of the harsh realities faced by inner-city and greater Johannesburg residents during one of the gravest economic downturns in recent memory.
The association said that from 2008 to 2021, electricity charges had increased by 394%. While the tariffs have drastically increased, service delivery and basic maintenance have deteriorated across the city due to inadequacies, inefficient processes and mismanagement of funds accrued by the municipality, it said.