No load-shedding from Tuesday, promises Ramaphosa as 'sabotage' partly blamed for blackouts

11 December 2019 - 15:41 By Qaanitah Hunter
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President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged that load-shedding will come to an end on Tuesday next week - and that it will not be a dark Christmas. 

The president said that from December 17 to January 13, and “hopefully thereafter”, the lights would stay on.

This as Eskom pledged that problems which caused the thousands of megawatts of energy to be lost over the past week - which saw the country plunged into darkness and unprecedented stage 6 load-shedding - would be resolved and the power back into the system by the end of the week.

Ramaphosa cut short his trip to Egypt and met Eskom's board and management alongside deputy president David Mabuza and ministers Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday.

The president announced that a mix of “sabotage”, wet coal and an ageing fleet led to stage 6 load-shedding across the country on Monday.

The sabotage, allegedly at the hands of an Eskom insider, led to two boilers being disconnected.

“The sabotage happened in a way where we lost 2,000MW. The wet coal led to a loss of additional megawatts. All that was a combination. Sabotage is not the only factor that led to load-shedding,” Ramaphosa said.

He first said that “someone in the Eskom system” disconnected an instrument that led to two boilers tripping, which resulted in the 2,000MW loss.

At the same briefing, Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said that this took place at the Tutuka power station in Mpumalanga. 

Bheki Nxumalo, the Eskom group executive for generation, said they found tampering with the monitors at the station that led to the tripping of two boilers.

Ramaphosa said the energy grid was unreliable and unpredictable for a number of reasons.

He said the management and board of Eskom were trying to stabilise the system so that there would be no load-shedding from mid-December until January 13.

“We will investigate the sabotage. We directed the sabotage acts to be investigated. Eskom will work with SAPS and the intelligence agency as well to find out exactly how anyone within Eskom could have disconnected the instrument that led to the loss of 2,000MW,” Ramaphosa said.

Nxumalo said there had been a recovery of the system and that, by Monday, all units should be up and running.

Bernard Magoro, general manager of systems, said they should be able to bring back 9,500MW to the grid on Monday, allowing for stability.

Ramaphosa had called for accountability among Eskom's managers and for them to proactive. 

“We want the board to rigorously enforce accountability by all. Everyone in Eskom must be held accountable,” he said, while also noting his support for the board.

The president said ministers Mantashe and Gordhan would present to the cabinet on Friday ways to increase electricity capacity, which will also include self-generation.

Ramaphosa said Eskom management had asked for 5,000MW increased capacity which could be relied on to maintain and refurbish ageing power stations.

However, Oberholzer said they are yet to work out how much they will need to restore ageing power stations.

Ramaphosa said he was cancelling all leave for managers at Eskom throughout the December period.

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