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New Medupi deadline 'achievable'

The first electricity from the power station was initially due to come online at the end of this year.

Eskom has announced the Medupi power plant will not be ready on time and will only be completed in the second half of 2014. The first electricity from the power station was initially due to come online at the end of this year.Picture:Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's former finance director Paul O'Flaherty says he's confident the electricity giant's new deadline for the Medupi power plant is achievable.

O'Flaherty doesn't believe any action should be taken by government against companies for the delay.

"There is no action that can be taken. I am advising the industry based on my experience that it needs to change. We need to have a better working relationship and more productivity."

This is despite Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba saying contractors will be held accountable for the setbacks.

O'Flaherty tendered his resignation with immediate effect on Wednesday.

He admitted Eskom has made mistakes and also slammed the local construction industry.

"The way people are set up on site and the way labour is trained, supervised and treated is just not acceptable."

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

The first electricity from the power station was initially due to come online at the end of this year.

LESSON MUST BE LEARNT

Gigaba says Eskom must learn a lesson from the delays.

He says the setback is about more than just holding companies accountable.

"Necessary lessons have to be drawn from the Medupi implementation in order to guide our actions going forward."

Gigaba said on Wednesday that he's "extremely disturbed" by the delays.

The delay has sparked fresh fears of load-shedding and has led to the cost of the project swelling by more than R10 billion.

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

He says the team will travel as far as France to confront contractors responsible for the delay.

Gigaba also says independent consultants will be brought in to assess the situation.

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.

TWO YEAR PLAN

Eskom CEO Brian Dames says he's not going anywhere.

Dames says there are no plans for load-shedding or tariff hikes despite the delays at Medupi.

He also says the power utility has a two-year plan to deal with its debt crisis.

Speaking to 567 CapeTalk/Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield on Wednesday, he said the power utility was struggling to pay off debt because it was not able to charge the prices it should.

The electricity supplier's debt amounts to R225 billion.