Power blackouts – Minister Brown owes South Africa urgent answers

Power outage03 November 2014, Sweetcrude, Cape Town – A crack in a coal storage silo, on Saturday afternoon, affecting supplies to all six units of the Majuba power station caused the loss of 1800MW to the national grid, deeply worsening our National energy crisis. This is a direct result of Eskom’s deficient maintenance and planning and the Public Enterprise Ministry’s lack of quality control measures over Eskom.

I will be writing today to the Minister to request a full and detailed timeline for the maintenance on all of South Africa’s power stations, to avoid failures such as occurred yesterday at Majuba.

The DA will also have this timeline independently assessed to ascertain if it fits in with best international practices. Eskom cannot be allowed to decide on its own maintenance benchmarks in secret and in the dark.

Before the President undertakes clandestine foreign meetings on R 1 trillion nuclear energy programmes, he should focus on our failing energy infrastructure at home. It is evident that the President must urgently call a meeting of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission to address this issue.

Eskom will start rolling blackouts countrywide today due to a loss of capacity at Majuba. It is unacceptable that power outages are now expected to last the entire week.

The DA demands that Minister Lynn Brown end her cat and mouse game with the public and provide a full briefing to Parliament in a Minister’s Statement on Eskom’s current capacity constraints, and when South Africa will be free of the threat of load shedding. Widespread blackouts should only be employed as a last resort.

As early as 2011, the DA called for a plan to address Eskom’s maintenance backlogs, to avoid rolling blackouts. This call has fallen on deaf ears, while maintenance failures mount, and ultimately bring about power cuts into the homes and businesses of South Africans.

The DA will continue to hold Eskom, the Minister and the President accountable and ensure that they deliver on their mandates to provide uninterrupted power to South Africans, through maintaining and improving infrastructure at this state-owned entity.
*Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises – Democratic Alliance

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