- Ironically, South Africans were shocked to hear that there is no end in sight as far as electricity disruptions are concerned
- Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told the nation that Eskom is in worse shape than initially thought
- This is what you, as a South African, need to know about the situation
The situation at the power utility, Eskom, is worse than originally thought; this is according to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Briefly.co.za reported earlier this week that Gordhan, along with Eskom board members, had briefed South Africa on the challenges facing the state-owned entity.
Here are the nine highlights every South African should be aware of:
1. Load-shedding is not going anywhere
Load-shedding will be a part of everyday life for the foreseeable future. Both Eskom and the state had previously been convinced that major issues at the utility would be solved by January. This has not been the case and the challenges are far greater than originally thought.
2. There is no indication of when things will return to normal
Both Gordhan and Eskom's management have been unable to indicate when load-shedding will come to an end. The minister is currently waiting for a technical investigation to conclude before he commits to a date.
3. Failure to maintain the fleet has led to this point
Over the last ten years, Eskom has failed to adequately maintain its fleet of power stations. Turbines requiring regular maintenance have been left to run into the ground. Budgets for the repairs were wilted down to a fraction of what should have been available. This has resulted in numerous breakdowns, which in turn led to instability in generation.
4. New plants have been an expensive exercise in futility
The Medupi and Kusile power stations had been built to allow for the retirement of older plants and to allow for planned repairs on others. However, neither of the billion Rand-plants are completely operational, years after they were meant to be finished. According to News24, Medupi trips on a daily basis and Kusile is not commercially operational.
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5. Effects of state capture persist
State capture is reportedly alive and well at Eskom, with change and recovery thwarted by employees who have been siphoning funds out of the state-owned entity. News24 reports that an attempt to swindle funds out of Eskom was blocked just this week.
6. Financial difficulties are hindering renewal
Eskom is in a financial deadlock. The utility cannot fund itself and it cannot loan money either. Instead, the entity relies on government guarantees. Financial mismanagement has left Eskom crippled, borrowing from the state to pay debt.
7. Coal challenges
Issues over the quality of coal supplied to the utility have further impeded the situation. Reports allege that substandard coal was sold at high prices, worsening the damage done to power stations.
8. The situation continues to worsen
Between 2017 and 2018, Eskom systems tripped 300 times. However, between February 2018 and 2019, the systems had tripped 456 times. This has been chalked up to poor planning, failure to maintain the fleet and corruption.
9. The challenge of rectifying the situation is enormous
Minister Gordhan told South Africans on Tuesday that they would have to endure the outages and the subsequent challenges that arise from them. Experts predict that stability at Eskom is something that will only be achieved years from now, if ever.
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