Last Friday’s switch-off by Eskom of electricity to the Western Cape’s Metrorail system during the evening rush hour immediately caused a great deal of discomfort to thousands of workers struggling to get home after a hard day’s work.
It also provided an instant bonanza for Cape Town taxi drivers and owners until Prasa paid the R4 million Eskom bill for January it claims it was negotiating about and intended to pay later than usual.
Needless to say, there was an instant bun fight of blame throwing on the radio and social media with some saying Eskom should have warned commuters in advance of the shut off and others (mainly the Eskom spokesman) pointing out that if anyone should have warned commuters it should have been the delinquent debtor – Prasa.
Either way it was unfortunate because if there is one thing that stands out in this economic mess we are in, it is that we are all in it together – all strata of society, all hues in our rainbow nation. It is going to take all of us working together to drag us out of the mire. Squabbling among ourselves will not help.
That said, it was refreshing to those in the private sector that in Eskom in the Western Cape (at least) and hopefully elsewhere in the organization, there are people who are prepared to apply normal practices of debt management.
One suspects there always were, but they were stymied by their political masters. We should all cheer that political interference in the Eskom business has been lessened.
Apparently, the Prasa operation in Cape Town is not the only organization experiencing this new, tough Eskom stance. Sundry municipalities according to Eskom are getting the same treatment i.e. facing a cut off in Eskom power supply for nonpayment. It will be interesting if they too can now suddenly find the cash to pay Eskom.
While Eskom is due for some praise in this instance, Prasa is not. The way its managers approach the organization’s cash flow is obviously seriously flawed. Were incompetence of such magnitude discovered in the private sector, many heads would have rolled. Is it too much to ask that drastic action be taken against these highly paid executives who continue to undermine our economy by failing to turn an inefficient transport system around?
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry