Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has apologised to South Africans for the inconvenience caused by the current loadshedding incidents and says it will take some time to solve the crisis.
Gordhan says more technicians have also been assigned to Mozambique to manage the cut in power supply to South Africa, resulting from the tropical cyclone that recently hit Mozambique.
The minister has acknowledged that Eskom has not communicated sufficiently with the public, adding that they will work closely with municipalities, businesses and the public in order to improve communication about planned outages.
Gordhan and Eskom Board chairman Jabu Mabuza addressed the media in Rosebank, north of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
Mabuza says the lack of maintenance of units at power stations has been the main cause of breakdowns in power supply. He says Eskom has a number of operational and structural challenges that are contributing to the utility’s overall problems.
Mabuza says the load shedding comes as a result of reduction in supply while repairs are being done on units. He also admits that Eskom’s capacity is not meeting the demand.
No end date for power cuts
Gordhan said on Tuesday he cannot say yet when rolling blackouts will end, as power utility Eskom struggles with capacity shortages that threaten to thwart efforts to boost economic growth.
Eskom supplies more than 90 percent of the power in South Africa but has suffered repeated faults at its coal-fired power stations, along with low water levels at hydroelectric plants,diesel shortages and loss of imports from Mozambique.
Around 17,000 megawatts of Eskom’s installed capacity of 45 000 megawatts was unavailable, Gordhan said.
“Engineers are visiting the power stations themselves to give us an independent view of what is going wrong and how quickly we can repair what is going wrong,” Gordhan told journalists.
“We need to complete these investigations, and we will comeback to you in the next 10 to 14 days.”
Eskom has continuously implemented power cuts since Thursday, with up to 4,000 megawatts cut from the grid on a rotational basis.
The power cuts have disrupted businesses, particularly the small- and medium-sized firms, and have also prompted frustrations among ordinary people ahead of an election in May. Apart from faults at the new Medupi and Kusile mega power plants, three other coal-fired plants were suffering severe problems, Eskom executives said. The executives also said Eskom was expecting to receive a diesel shipment on Friday to replenish its fuel supplies. Eskom burns diesel when it cannot produce enough from its coal plants. -Additional reporting by Reuters