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Your questions answered: Yes, Eskom has a coronavirus plan

Mar 18 2020 21:52
Lameez Omarjee

While businesses, learning institutions and event organisers brace for Covid-19, power utility Eskom says it also has an action plan.

Earlier this week, one Fin24 reader asked: "I'd like to know what will happen to South Africa when workers from Eskom start to self-isolate. Do they have a plan to keep the country 'out of the dark'?"

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha told Fin24 that the power utility does indeed have a plan to deal with the coronavirus, and it follows the guidelines issued by the health department and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

"We have asked those workers who can work remotely to stay home, and to cancel all in-person meetings, unless absolutely necessary.

"All travel abroad has been cancelled. Domestic travel limited to the absolutely necessary," he said.

For staff who need to be at work physically, Eskom is in the process of getting the "necessary equipment" to protect staff. This includes protective clothing, sanitisers and other measures for a safe working environment, Mantshantsha said. "All these are approved by our chief medical officer, who works closely with the NICD and the WHO (World Health Organisation)."

What about load shedding? 

Eskom has not implemented load shedding for the past three days. Last week Eskom implemented Stage 4 load shedding after Koeberg Unit 1 tripped. It has since been able to restore generation capacity.

In a power update issued on Tuesday, Eskom said it does not expect to implement load shedding on Wednesday, but warned that the system remained constrained and vulnerable. As at Tuesday afternoon, unplanned breakdowns were at 10 639 MW and planned maintenance outages were at 5 101 MW.

Energy-intensive users such as mining companies and auto-manufacturers have also developed plans to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The mining sector has not reported any Covid-19 infections so far. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Minerals Council of South Africa, which represents 90% of the industry, have developed a 10-point plan in line with NICD and the health department's guidelines. It also includes giving workers access to protective clothing and cleaning materials and limiting travel. Workers are also encouraged to get the seasonal influenza vaccination.

Local car manufacturers also plan to remain operational, despite the outbreak, Fin24 reported. The industry has cancelled gatherings of more than 100 people, according to the president's directive and pant tours have also been cancelled.

eskom  |  mining  |  manufacturing  |  coronavirus  |  sa economy
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