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Ramaphosa: We're hard at work keeping the lights on

Apr 10 2019 11:35
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

President Cyril Ramaphosa says that government is getting to the root of Eskom's troubles and is making headway in terms of keeping the lights on and turning the embattled power utility around.

Ramaphosa was addressing business leaders at a meeting at Beyerskloof Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa said that government had since identified operational, financial and maintenance challenges that have hobbled Eskom for years.

'We need R36bn'

"We were building large, ambitious coal power stations at a point when the world was saying 'Wow, you South Africans are brave. We won’t be building large stations for a long time. We are going midstream'.

"We are far down the road, but our stations must be completed and we need R36bn to do that," Ramaphosa said, referring to SA's multi-billion rand power plants, Medupi and Kusile which Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has previously said were "badly designed".

The cost of the mega projects have escalated over the years, but Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza said earlier this month that government would not halt construction.

“Given that they are at a point where they are almost complete… it would cost around R18bn each to complete,” he said at the time.

'Constant monitoring'

Ramaphosa said that Gordhan was constantly monitoring the situation at Eskom and getting regular updates from the power utility.

"Gordhan monitors each of the stations to track their performance. He and his team collect the information and create spreadsheets and reports. He will then present the reports to me weekly. We are moving and we will get to the bottom of this," Ramaphosa pledged.

In March, Eskom introduced Stage 4 load shedding for several days following Cyclone Idai in Mozambique which further compromised the power supply. Eskom has long been plagued by ageing power plants, insufficient maintenance and allegations of state capture.

Earlier this month, Gordhan said that while load shedding was not yet a thing of the past, Eskom was unlikely to implement Stage 4. He said at the time, that in terms of Eskom's winter plan, should the power supply be compromised, only Stage 1 would be implemented - at least until August.

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