Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
Eskom suspends managers
EMBATTLED power utility, Eskom, has blamed stage four load shedding and plunging South Africans into hours on end of darkness this week, to “serious issues of apathetic behaviour by some management staff”.
The power supplier yesterday said that it had suspended two of its power station managers at the Tukuta and Kendal power stations in Mpumalanga, citing unresponsiveness of its senior management staff towards the crisis.
In a statement, Eskom said it was aware that the levels of failures were unacceptably high despite some of its units having since returned to service.
The entity’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said while it was true that its ageing fleet was plagued by legacy issues of neglect and omitted maintenance that left it susceptible to unpredictable breakdowns, the situation had also been exacerbated by “serious issues of apathetic behaviour by some management staff”.
Mantshantsha said it was now common cause that Eskom has been forced to resort to load shedding mainly due to breakdowns in the electricity generation fleet.
He said that “it is quite possible” that some of these breakdowns could have been avoided by a different approach and conduct on the part of staff, including management.
“It is for this reason that the board has come out strongly in support of group chief executive (GCE) Mr Andre de Ruyter, in his action yesterday morning (Thursday) of temporarily suspending the Tukuta and Kendal power station managers pending disciplinary inquiries.
“Further interventions are ongoing at the Kriel and Duvha power stations (in Mpumalanga), engagements have been held with other power station managers to ensure that the previous culture of weak consequence management will no longer be the norm and will no longer be tolerated at Eskom.
“Eskom has embarked on a process to identify new leadership for the two power stations,” Mantshantsha said
The power utility said it was fully cognisant of the substantial strain that load shedding exerted on the well-being of the country’s citizens who were already beleaguered by an already depressed economy and were committed to attaining sustainability and reliability of the Eskom generation plant.
In a letter addressed to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, Kevin Mileham, DA’s Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy said Eskom’s problems were nothing new as the government had known about the electricity supply shortfall since at least 1998, when the White Paper on Energy warned that Eskom’s reserves would run out in 2007 if government did not make significant investments into generation and infrastructure.
He added that if South Africa’s economy was to have any hope of recovery, the national government needed to get out of the way and let the private sector, provinces and municipalities get on with the job of keeping the lights on and industry working.