CentralSAMatjhabeng and water board strike deal
─── KATLEHO MORAPELA 06:12 Fri, 23 Oct 2020
The Free State's financially troubled Matjhabeng Local Municipality and its water board have struck a deal.
The municipality, currently in trouble over its escalating Eskom and water board debt, confirms it has reached common ground with Sedibeng Water to try and resolve the crisis faced in the area after the water board restricted bulk water supply to the municipality.
Without outlining how the two parties will be working together moving forward, municipal spokesperson Kgojane Matutle confirms the municipality has already paid a certain amount to the water board and the provincial government will subsidise the remaining balance.
The agreement between Sedibeng Water and the municipality comes just over a month after Eskom attached the bank accounts of the municipality in efforts to recoup its money.
The power utility last month attached the bank account of the Matjhabeng Municipality to recover a R3.4 billion owed for bulk electricity supply.
Its spokesperson, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, told OFM News they had only received five payments amounting to R66.5 million from the municipality since the beginning of the year.
She said this legal step was a result of the municipality's non-payment and repeated failure to honour its payment obligations.
Subsequent to that the municipality put up 139 of its farms as security, so that they would be able to pay employees and render services.
Whilst Eskom has agreed to lift the Municipality’s more than R3.4 billion bill in exchange for the farms, the contents of the deal struck between the municipality and its water board are yet to be clarified.
Matutle says the municipality was battling to make their payment to the water board as a result of residents not being able to pay for rates, as many lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Municipality has committed to ring-fence all the money collected from water billing and Operation Patala to service the debt. The payment will allow Sedibeng Water to buy critical resources including cleaning water chemicals to purify water before supplying the Municipality. It is also important to note that the drought currently experienced has affected the dam levels and thus Sedibeng Water needs money to maintain the water quality," said Matutle.
He adds that the two parties have pledged to find amicable solutions to the water issue experienced and agreed to continue talks on how the two could work together to ensure residents always have adequate quality water supply.