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Big businesses call for inquiry into Eskom crisis

The Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry wants the inquiry to find out how to fix the utility's problems.

FILE: Big businesses are calling for the establishment of a full scale judicial commission of inquiry into the Eskom crisis. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Big businesses in Cape Town are calling for the establishment of a full scale judicial commission of inquiry into the Eskom crisis.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants the inquiry to find out how to fix the power utility's ongoing problems.

In recent weeks, the country has been hit by rolling blackouts.

Last month, a coal silo collapsed at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga.

The chamber's Janine Myburgh says these issues need to be sorted out.

"There are so many challenges with Eskom getting different versions and denials of things so the best way to address the problem is to find out what the problem is and to determine how to address the challenges."

Earlier this week, Eskom said its pre-emptive load shedding measures over the past two weeks have allowed the country to avoid a national blackout.

In recent weeks, the national grid has been strained due to ailing diesel reserves, wet weather conditions and maintenance at power stations.

While Eskom says it hopes the load shedding was the last for the year, more maintenance can be expected this festive season.

ESKOM ASKS WORKERS TO QUIT

Last week, Eskom announced plans to offer staff voluntary severance packages.

The parastatal says the applications, due in February, will be considered on a case-by-case basis but operational requirements will be considered to ensure core skills are not lost.

The power utility released its financial report last week showing it made a profit of R9.3 billion in the first six months of the financial year, this is down by 24 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

The power producer will analyse the situation again at the end of February.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor, Fitch and Moody's recently downgraded Eskom and chief financial director Tsholofelo Molefe said that "any further downgrade would seriously impede Eskom's ability to raise external funding".

Meanwhile, two employees were arrested last month for allegedly trying to defraud Eskom of billions of rands after interfering with its payroll system.

The pair was apprehended along with an accomplice during a sting operation at the weekend following a two month investigation.

Alarm bells were raised by Eskom when they picked up fraudulent activity within their information technology department.