Brace your­selves for more dis­rup­tion – Brown

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Staff Re­porter

PUB­LIC En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown said yes­ter­day South Africa should brace it­self for more dis­rup­tions in its power sup­ply as the next two years would be dif­fi­cult amid ef­forts by the gov­ern­ment to sta­bilise Eskom and strengthen the coun­try’s power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity.

Mean­while, Eskom warned South Africans that the risk of power cuts again this week­end were very high.

“The sys­tem is ex­pected to re­main tight over the evening peaks for the next few days. While the de­mand for elec­tric­ity is ex­pected to be met to­day [Thurs­day] and to­mor­row [Fri­day], there is a very high risk of load shed­ding over the week­end,” Eskom said, adding a por­tion of the ca­pac­ity nor­mally im­ported from Ca­hora Bassa will be un­avail­able on Sun­day as the plant un­der­goes ur­gent planned main­te­nance. It will be sec­ond straight week­end of load shed­ding this month.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment dur­ing a de­bate on the Eskom cri­sis, Brown said as with cars, power plants broke down un­ex­pect­edly. “Our prob­lem is that some­times, like the re­cent col­lapse of the coal stor­age fa­cil­ity at Ma­juba, too many break down un­ex­pect­edly at one time. In sim­ple terms, that is what is hap­pen­ing now,” she told Par­lia­ment.

Brown said: “You may then ask: Why are we not mak­ing sure that we have more power sta­tions to deal with the planned ser­vic­ing and any un­planned break­downs?”

The an­swer, she said, is that “we are build­ing two very large power sta­tions right now – among the top five in size in the world – and they should have been de­liv­er­ing power by now. And, if they had been avail­able as orig­i­nally planned, once again, we would not have been hav­ing this de­bate right now. We would have had more than enough power avail­able for all even­tu­al­i­ties.”

She said a num­ber of rea­sons could be as­cribed to the de­lays, in­clud­ing the fact that “some of the in­ter­na­tional con­trac­tors who we hired to build cru­cial parts of the new power sta­tions let us down badly and we lost many months as we tried to rec­tify their mis­takes”.

Then, too, almost a year had been lost as a re­sult of work stop­pages be­cause of strikes, she added.

Look­ing ahead, she said: “The bad news is that it is go­ing to be very tough for about two years longer and pa­tience will be needed on the part of all cit­i­zens.” Brown said “there are ma­jor chal­lenges ahead to achieve a much im­proved out­look in 2018.”

Ear­lier this week, econ­o­mists es­ti­mated that South Africans might have to wait for another three to five years be­fore en­joy­ing un­in­ter­rupted power sup­ply, while the econ­omy con­tin­ues to take a beat­ing from the ex­pected reg­u­lar in­ter­rup­tions at a cost of R300bn since 2008.

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