South Africa’s power cuts could have been avoided – DA

eskom20 February 2013, Johannesburg – South Africa’s nation-wide power emergency is as a direct result of Eskom, and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba’s poor planning, lack of quality control measures and shoddy implementation, according to the Democratic Alliance, DA.

Eskom has published a load-shedding schedule, as a ‘precautionary measure’ – an indication of the severity of South Africa’s electricity crisis. According to Eskom, the power emergency is a result of a water leak at Eskom’s Duvha Power Station, and scheduled aggressive maintenance.

This is the second major accident at Duvha Power Station. In 2011 Eskom lost 600 megawatts on the grid after a turbine test ended in an explosion. At the time, the explosion revealed a serious lack of quality control measures at the station.

The accident in 2011 cost the country R3 billion and compromised the energy supply. We cannot afford the same mistake. Power cuts could have been avoided, and it is not too late to prevent load-shedding.

The DA noted that if Eskom had delivered on its promise for the roll out of the first unit from the Medupi Power Station by its initial deadline in 2012, the threat of rolling blackouts and load shedding could have been avoided. However, R105 billion later, South Africa is still in a power crisis.

The DA’s requests following the current power problem included:

* for permanent mediators from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA) to arbitrate in the industrial action that stifled the construction of the project since September last year;

* Several requests for Minister Gigaba to brief Parliament on what he intends to do in order to prevent blackouts after Eskom indicated that it was experiencing strain in March this year. These requests were ignored;

* A maintenance plan needed to be drawn up earlier in anticipation of the current crisis. The DA raised this issue in April this year;

* A call for ‘heads to roll’ after a third delay in the roll out of the first unit from Medupi as per the Minster’s promise. To date, this has not been done; and

* A call for the contracts of all those responsible for the faulty construction and delays at Medupi to be brought before Parliament. This call was also ignored. The DA subsequently submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in order to obtain these contracts. These are yet to be handed over.

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