The eThekwini Municipality is planning to install prepaid meters in schools that are struggling to pay their electrical bills. According to the municipality, schools are owing them a total of R200 million for rates and services.

According to reports, the Provincial Education Department has been conducting consultations at many Durban schools who are owing, to help them meet their obligations. Now, the city is looking into installing prepaid meters, starting with schools that have “one phase meters”.

Last week, at the city’s executive meeting, a debt was recorded in a report that majority of the debt is owed by Section 21 schools, amounting to R194.5m. These are schools that receive funding from the department and are responsible for procuring stationery, textbooks, paying water and lights accounts and undertaking their own maintenance with school fees and fundraising initiatives.

The report stated R3.7 million is owed by Section 20 schools, which get services and textbooks paid for by the provincial department. It also stated that the revenue unit was working with the Electricity Department on the prepaid meter project. Education spokesperson, Kwazi Mthethwa confirmed that they were aware of the outstanding debt.

“We have sat down with some of those schools and are mapping out how to pay the municipality, within a short time. The department has already started helping with payments to the municipality where it can,” Mthethwa said.

Meanwhile, according to the report brought to Exco, the total outstanding debt is R11.9 billion. The report stated that the increase in debtors this year, was due to the increase in tariffs for services and rates. The report also stated that water over-billing also contributes to the increase in debt.