Eskom: Bad maintenance led to load shedding

Tshediso Matona admits the firm has not been faithful to its philosophy on maintenance.

FILE: Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom chief executive officer Tshediso Matona has highlighted a lack of maintenance as a major contributor to the country's electricity woes.

At a media briefing today Matona said the company has always had a philosophy about maintaining the power system, with it almost like a religion at the utility.

However, he admitted it has not been faithful to this notion and this has resulted in unreliable equipment which keeps breaking down.

Matona said the aim was to improve maintenance work this year so that the country did not have to constantly be on the brink of load shedding.

Matona said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was at Eskom's offices earlier in the day and described the parastatal as a "glorious company".

He added that government is supporting the utility as it tries to deal with the electricity problems.

Economists, business and industry leaders are concerned about the impact of further power outages and the sustainability of electricity in the future.

Matona has spent most of his week meeting with board members and business stakeholders related to what can be expected in terms of electricity supply.

He has released a calendar indicating that load shedding will happen regularly during February, March and April.

He says this short-term pain is important to secure supply in the long-term.

TIME RUNNING OUT

But time is running out for the utility to figure out how it is going to survive financially from February.

Eskom has warned that load shedding will be a reality for the next few months as the cuts will help protect the power grid and prevent a complete national blackout.

It has indicated that unless it receives additional government funds, it will run out of money to buy diesel, which is being used to run open gas turbines, from mid-February.

These are being used extensively at the moment to make up for the shortfall in generating capacity after a coal silo collapse at the Majuba Power Station.

Business and industry leaders have called for suggestions on how to survive regular power cuts which have been proposed in order to avoid a national blackout.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Peggy Drodskie said Eskom's woes will affect everyone.