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Eskom’s poor power grid maintenance heavily criticised

Energy analyst Ted Blom says it’s impossible for Eskom to catch up with the maintenance backlog.

FILE: The National Energy Regulator is hearing presentations as to why it should not approve Eskom’s application for a 25.3 percent tariff hike. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom's poor maintenance on the power grid has been heavily criticised with organisations saying this is why the country has unstable electricity supply.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) is hearing presentations as to why it should not approve Eskom's application for a 25,3 percent tariff hike.

The Freedom Front Plus' Anton Alberts says maintenance work should have never stopped, especially not during the Fifa World Cup.

"The lack of maintenance during the 2010 Soccer World Cup has led to where we are today. What we say in earnest is that Eskom and government have created the mess and they must solve it."

Energy analyst Ted Blom says it's now impossible for Eskom to catch up with the maintenance backlog.

"If it's done properly it would take at least six month to refurbish one unit. Given constrains that Eskom's facing in the gap between supply and demand they haven't got the capacity."

COSATU BLAMES ESKOM'S MANAGEMENT

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says South Africa is a laughing stock that can't keep the lights on and is blaming Eskom's management.

Cosatu's Dumisani Dakile said, "We are just making ourselves a laughing stock; we can't call ourselves a developmental state if we can hardly keep the lights on."

Dakile says Eskom's problems are not due to a lack of resources, but rather poor management.

"Even if we can give them two million percent increase they will not be able to resolve the crisis, we will still be in load shedding."

Dakile has pleaded with Nersa to consider the views of ordinary people, pointing out that not everyone was able to attend these hearings.

"We want to urge Nersa… before you make a determination in this matter go and hear ordinary people's views in relation to these things."

Eskom's acting CEO Brian Molefe is expected to respond to the arguments at the end of the hearings today.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said Eskom cannot be stabilised at the cost of the broader economy.

The utility said it needs more funds to buy diesel in order to minimise load shedding, which will cost the economy far more than what it's asking for.

The DA's deputy shadow minister Gordon Mackay said Eskom must pursue alternative funding options before tapping into the consumer.

Mackay said acting CEO Brian Molefe has made out as if there's no other option but to increase the price of electricity.

"Eskom has access to various other funding models. We fundamentally believe that Eskom should stop borrowing and start selling some of its assets or selling equities in its business."

Businesses, organisations and municipalities who have made presentations to the regulator are all strongly opposing this hike.

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