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Sun Sep 25 02:20:20 CAT 2016

Eskom war declared 'over'

Bianca Capazorio | 03 March, 2016 00:43
Medupi's unit 6 has come since online, feeding more power into the grid, and the country has had six months without load shedding. File photo
Image by: SIPHIWE SIBEKO / REUTERS

Eskom's "war room", established at the height of South Africa's energy crisis, has been closed down, parliament heard yesterday.

Public Enterprises director general Mogokare Seleke told the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises yesterday that the need for the crisis centre no longer existed.

The war room, which was headed up by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, was established in December 2014 when the country had daily load shedding.

It developed a five-point plan to bring power cuts under control.

The first point involved emergency measures to ensure that Eskom's plants were properly maintained without creating further disruptions to the grid.

Seleke said that a group of young engineers were basically playing Tetris - moving resources around so that maintenance took place without power gaps.

Medupi's unit 6 has come since online, feeding more power into the grid, and the country has had six months without load shedding.

Further measures taken included co-generation agreements, gas imports, independent power producers and liaison with some of the most energy-intensive users in the country.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament earlier this month that independent power producers were currently utilising gas and coal and she hoped to see others harnessing nuclear energy down the line.

Seleke said other state-owned companies were also starting to show signs of improvement.

South African Express, currently under discussion with regard to a possible merger of state-owned airlines, had moved from the "urgent attention" column to the "close monitoring" column. Denel had moved from "close monitoring" and was now seen in the same light as more stable parastatals like as Transnet and Sentech.

Seleke said only Safcol and Transnet were currently without CEOs. Safcol is also without a chief financial officer. But Seleke said imminent appointments were at "an advanced stage".

But several committee members questioned the positive news, with acting chair, ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho, finding Seleke "too defensive" while DA member Natasha Mazzone said that even President Jacob Zuma had admitted that state-owned companies were in need of urgent intervention.

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