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Eskom says 6 units back online as Gordhan demands end to load shedding

The power utility's Andrew Etzinger says Minister Pravin Gordhan has told them he wants load shedding over by Thursday.

Light bulb. Picture: Freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - Eskom says six of the seven generating units that were down are back online, adding that it aims to end load shedding by the end of this week.

The parastatal is implementing stage 3 rotational load shedding until 11 pm.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has been meeting with Eskom management on Tuesday.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says Gordhan has told them he wants load shedding over by Thursday.

“After seven units which had tripped and gone out of service yesterday, we’ve got six back online with one more small generator we are expecting back later this afternoon at 6 pm. Overall, it’s gone well and the prognosis obviously for the rest of the week is a lot brighter than it was going to be.”

Etzinger says, for now, management does not suspect sabotage is the cause of the unplanned outages at some of its power stations.

“This is not malicious or because of sabotage, I think it’s a conspiracy theory. From my side, I’m approaching it as a technical issue, I’ve got no reason to believe it is sabotage. Of course, those allegations will certainly be tested and investigated but for now, it’s a technical issue for our engineers and technicians.”

Eskom has implemented a third day of outages due to what it says is a shortage of generating capacity.

But some analysts have speculated that disgruntled union members could have sabotaged some Eskom units over government plans to split the utility.

Eskom bosses have apologised to South Africans for the inconvenience caused by load shedding.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe conceded the breakdown of seven units could have been avoided and he says an investigation is needed.

Hadebe says management is doing all it can to solve the crisis.

“It’s going to be tough over the next couple of days but we are on top of things. We are going to ensure that we put particular attention as we have already done before on maintenance to deal with the power stations that are tripping and ensure that the new power stations that should be complementing the old ones are dealt with structurally.”

He’s asked South Africans for patience while the utility deals with its system failure.

“Unfortunately, for South Africans, we need a bit of time to deal with that because earlier we had identified challenges and we are comfortable. In fact, we have achieved quite a number of things that we have set ourselves to achieve.”

Hadebe says South Africans deserve better and Eskom is sorry for the current state of affairs.

LOAD SHEDDING SHOCK

At the same time, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it's shocked by the sudden dramatic increase in load shedding.

Chamber President Janine Myburgh said: “How is it possible for six units to go down at the same time? It is just too much of a coincidence and we must ask if this is another case of sabotage. Sabotage was blamed previously for load shedding, but the form it took was never explained to the public except for workers who prevented coal deliveries from taking place.”

Check your area's load shedding schedule here.

View a load shedding data map on Cape Town here.

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