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Gigaba confident with new Medupi deadline

The Minister of Public Enterprises says he will ensure things stay on track this time.

Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba says he will do his own assessment to see what went wrong with the Medupi setbacks. Picture:Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Friday that he's been assured by contractors that the Medupi power station will start delivering electricity next year.

He said he will do his own assessment to see what went wrong and ensure things stay on track this time.

"I've instituted a study by a consulting firm to assess the project and engineering management capability. The study will also ascertain the extent of the risks including assessing the drivers for the delays and cost escalation."

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.

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

On Thursday, 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 Gigaba saying contractors would be held accountable for the setbacks.

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

Gigaba said the team will travel as far as France to confront contractors responsible for the delay.

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.

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."