Fraud, corruption made it hard for Tutuka to work properly: Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa led a high-powered oversight visit to one of Eskom’s troubled power stations on Saturday.
Flanked by ministers Gwede Mantashe, Pravin Gordhan and Bheki Cele, as well as Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, the president detailed challenges facing the Tutuka power station in Standerton, Mpumalanga.
During a briefing after the walkabout De Ruyter announced “some positive news”: towards the end of the week the country should be free of load-shedding.
“We have a couple of big units returning, so that’s positive news, and towards the end of July the risk will be significantly diminished once Koeberg 2 comes back to the grid. That’s about 920MW that will bring a large measure of relief,” he said.
Ramaphosa told journalists that some of the challenges were as a result of the government’s poor processes, such as failing to help the plant procure spare parts speedily.
Fraud and corruption also plagued Tutuka, he said.
“It’s very pervasive in the power station, with a number of people who are involved in fraudulent activities and theft, to a point where the theft and fraud make it challenging for the power station to operate optimally — when there are shortages of spares and when they are stolen ... ”
He said: “That is a problem that is being attended to now. The corruption is being dealt with and people are getting arrested as a result of the actions that are being taken by management. We are grateful for that.
“It is quite challenging to a point where some of our managers have to get protection because they are threatened as they are dealing with corrupt activities.”
He commended Tutuka management for their commitment to getting the power station working.
“I am going to be meeting another group of managers at Megawatt Park this afternoon, just to get a closer insight into some of the problems and challenges they are facing.
“I am pleased that I got this opportunity to come and see for myself here on the ground and, having done so, we will be able to come up with a number of proposals that can effectively deal with the challenges the country faces when it comes to load-shedding.”
Ramaphosa said De Ruyter had said load-shedding can be solved if we all work together, “and I agree with him”.
“We all have to work together to address the problem of load-shedding and they are doing as much as they possibly can, dealing with big machines, big equipment that they have to streamline to generate the energy that we need.”
He added: “Sometimes these machines break down, [but the people] are committed to making sure that they are repaired. We just need to enable them and give them the capacity from our processes, from the funding point of view, and enable them to get the work done as quickly as possible.
“What is important is to put megawatts on the grid, that is our main focus. A whole lot of other things we will attend to as we move on, but right now, my focus, the minister’s focus, the premier’s focus is to put as many megawatts on the grid as possible.”
At Tutuka, Ramaphosa said, work must be done to get all six units working.
“Right now we’ve had two operating and another one is coming on stream, and they are going to work very hard to get the other three on stream. They already have dates that they have put in place to get all the units operating.
“When this power station functions well, it generates easily 3,500MW or so and that is what we want to see Tutuka doing. It’s one of those power stations that have always worked well.”
During the state capture and corruption era, Tutuka had been brought down, said Ramaphosa.
“We are going to lift it again and make sure that Eskom does rise ... I am glad that they have a really good plan to bring the other units at Tutuka back on stream,” he said, adding that an address to the nation on the Eskom crisis was looming.
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