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Airport, hospital & Metrorail exempt from power cuts

The power utility is working around the clock to get a collapsed coal silo at its Majuba Power Station up.

Widespread load shedding hit the Cape, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth throughout the course of the day. Picture: Kim Ludbrook/EPA.

CAPE TOWN - Eskom says certain critical loads including the airport, hospitals and Metrorail in the Western Cape have been excluded from load shedding blocks.

The power utility is working around the clock to get a collapsed coal silo at its Majuba Power Station up and running again.

Widespread load shedding hit the Cape, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth throughout the course of the day and is expected to continue until about 10pm.

Eskom Western Cape spokesperson Jolene Henn says the network will be severely tight throughout the week until the power station is back online.

"So we do try to accommodate our different customer segments when we design the load shedding blocks as it is very important that we are also fair to all the customers when we do load shedding in the province."

'VERY SERIOUS' SILO COLLAPSE

Eskom has described the current situation involving a collapsed silo at one of its power stations as "very serious".

The power utility warned of wide-spread load shedding today following a severe technical failure at the Majuba Power Station this weekend.

The station is one of the utility's largest coal-fired power stations.

The power utility says a crack in a coal storage silo yesterday afternoon caused the loss of 1,800 megawatts.

Power cuts are likely to take place until about 10 tonight and could continue throughout the week.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says the power station that's been taken offline will result in a big loss to the electricity grid.

"We are working very hard to address the situation, bringing in mobile coal conveyers from other power stations. But as long as the conveyers are not able to get coal in, we could potentially have a deficit that carries over into next week."

POSSIBLE ELECTRICITY CRISIS

Energy expert Chris Yelland has warned this could put the country back in the 2008 electricity crisis when the parastatal first introduced load shedding.

Etzinger adds it will take a while to get the station back online.

"Unfortunately It's not as simple as wheeling up the mobile conveyer, there are also other parts of the power station that also need to be changed."

On Thursday the utility had to instruct customers to cut down 10 percent of their electricity usage to avoid widespread blackouts.

The widespread blackouts are expected from 8am to 10pm today.

To read the full load shedding schedule, click here.