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Gigaba ‘extremely disturbed’ by Medupi delay

The Public Enterprises Minister has stepped in to put pressure on everyone involved.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba (L) and Eskom CEO Brian Dames inspect the Medupi power station on 11 April 2013.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said he was "extremely disturbed" by delays at the Medupi power station in Limpopo.

Eskom on Monday announced the plant would not be ready on time and that the project would only be completed in the second half of 2014.

In May, Gigaba vowed that no delays would be tolerated and that heads would roll if the deadline wasn't met.

The minister said the moment he was informed about delays at the station, he stepped in to put pressure on everyone involved.

He also instructed Eskom to share the news with the public and to take urgent action.

Gigaba said independent consultants were now being brought in and a team would travel to France to confront contractors there.

At the same time, Eskom's finance director Paul O'Flaherty has tendered his resignation with immediate effect.

SABOTAGE?

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday accused contractors of deliberately sabotaging work at the plant.

The union's Irvin Jim said it was clear something had gone badly wrong at Medupi.

He says delays are good for contracting firms.

Jim believes the number of companies trying to manage the site is an indication of this.

"The more the construction is being postponed the more these companies continue to make money out of the project."

Eskom claims one of the main reasons for the delay is labour unrest.

The power utility has also blamed the delay on underperformance by contractors and critical technical challenges to the system controlling the power plant.

The delay has sparked fresh fears of load-shedding.

The project will now also cost more than R10 billion to complete.

The unit is expected to add 800 megawatts to the power grid.