A lot of people can do a better job than Eskom. Let them

15 December 2019 - 00:00 By The Sunday Times

Eskom is an albatross around our collective necks, and it's choking us to death. The vulnerability of its power-generating plants, as well as its lack of planning and foresight, were exposed by the heavy rains of the past two weeks. Some power stations in Mpumalanga could not cope with the amount of floodwater seeping in, and rainwater wet its coal reserves at storages in Medupi and other plants. On Monday, when the situation became untenable and the national grid could no longer cope, Eskom hastily implemented unprecedented stage 6 load-shedding, which demands a reduction of 6,000MW. South Africans were shocked and frustrated. Mining operations halted, small businesses shut up shop, the economy came to a standstill and so did the traffic at non-functioning traffic lights.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who jetted out to Egypt on the day Eskom announced stage 6, had to cut his trip short to deal with the crisis. He blamed not just the weather but pointed to possible sabotage at Tutuka power station, and top Eskom insiders confirmed that a temperature-measuring instrument in one of the boiler rooms had been tampered with. This is the stuff of bestselling fiction. On Monday evening the demand shortfall was 7,000MW and the national grid could generate only 22,000MW, less than half of installed capacity. Eskom had plans for escalating to probable stage 8 load-shedding, and at one point on black Monday we were dangerously close to that...

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