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'National blackout rumours baseless'

Eskom says SA is nowhere near a countrywide blackout despite this happening in other countries.

FILE: Traffic lights not working in Cape Town as a result of load shedding by Eskom. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has assured South Africans there won't be a national blackout, but load shedding will become a reality for the next few months.

Eskom's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tshediso Matona briefed the media yesterday about the state of the country's power system and what to expect in the foreseeable future.

Load shedding was implemented for the third consecutive weekend and again yesterday due to ongoing problems which have plagued the country since a coal silo collapse at the Majuba Power Station.

Eskom says South Africa is nowhere near a national blackout despite this having happened in other countries.

The utilities Eskom Steve Lennon says this isn't even an option.

"The viral rumour that went around that Eskom was scheduling a national blackout is absolute nonsense."

Lennon says there have been blackouts in other parts of the world like New York and even Germany.

"Fortunately they were able to rely on massive support from the French system and they were able to recover within a few hours. If it happened in South Africa, we haven't got the support from very strong neighbours and it could take us weeks to recover and that is why we focus so strongly in avoiding a national blackout."

However, South Africans are urged to start planning their lives and business around load shedding for the next few months.

NEGLIGENCE BLAMED FOR LOAD SHEDDING

At the same time, the Public Enterprises Ministry says South Africans will have to accept the reality of load shedding as years of negligence have caught up.

Minister Lynne Brown has told Eyewitness News a lack of maintenance and foresight to build new plants has resulted in the energy crisis.

Eskom has over the past few days implemented stage two and three load shedding to generate power capacity.

Brown says the past is now haunting the country.

"We're not out of the woods. We have made decisions in 2004 not to build more power stations. I think we are actually reaping the results of that decision."

Brown says load shedding will remain a reality until power plants countrywide undergo thorough maintenance.

She said the country's power grid will only stabilise once all plants are taken off the grid and undergo rigorous maintenance.

"We will have load shedding for another two years."

But there is a glimmer of hope. Brown explains the crisis should abate once the Medupi and Kusile power stations come online.

"We will breathe a bit better when Medupi comes online and then eventually when Kusile comes online, We are not out of the woods, not by a far chance."

The minister reiterated poor planning over the past decade has resulted in the country's energy crisis.

Click here to view Eskom's load shedding schedule.

Click here for an interactive map of the load shedding schedule in Cape Town

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