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SA still in the dark as Eskom mum on stage 5 and stage 6 load shedding

Energy expert Ted Blom says the Eskom board is actively avoiding coming clean about the extent of the crisis.

FILE: Eskom group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe briefs the media on 19 March 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom has gone to ground on Tuesday afternoon amid fresh reports that it’s started planning for stage 5 and stage 6 load shedding, which would mean more frequent and longer periods of blackouts.

According to Fin24, officials have warned there is a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse is averted.

Stage 5 and stage 6 implies shedding 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts respectively.

Eyewitness News has spent the afternoon reaching out to the cash-strapped utility to clarity reports that load shedding could be ramped up even further.

Energy expert Ted Blom said the Eskom board was actively avoiding coming clean about the extent of the crisis.

“I don’t know what they’re doing and they’re using us as guinea pigs. They’ve been in power for more than a year and are telling us they’re still learning about this, that and the next thing. We don’t need people to learn. We can’t pay people millions of rand, R8 million a year, to learn. They must fix the thing, not learn.”

WATCH: Eskom: Here’s what Gordhan and Mabuza say is the problem

Earlier, Eskom assured South Africans that the country is far from a national blackout.

But the power utility said it would have a better understanding of what caused the latest power cuts when technicians provide comprehensive feedback at the end of March.

While the country is currently experiencing a fifth consecutive day of load shedding, most of which has been at stage four, there seem to be no answers yet when this will end.

The power utility has blamed a decline in maintenance and mismanagement contributing to the electricity crises.

But the energy giant said it would have a better understanding of what caused the massive outages after technicians give feedback later before the end of the month.

“We’re still very far from that point. It’s these measures that we’re putting in place,” Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza said.

Despite serious concerns raised about the current crisis at Eskom, Mabuza was confident the lights would not go out for the country, indefinitely, at least not any time soon.

Mabuza said long overdue maintenance was never done over the past five years. He added the budget was also cut by half when it was much needed.

He further stated that the country would bear the brunt for mismanagement and ageing infrastructures. “We need to find time to repair and maintain so that we can return the producing units back online.”

Meanwhile, stage 4 load shedding is expected to last until about 11pm followed immediately by stage two.

GOVERNANCE CRISIS

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday that Eskom's power crisis is not symptomatic of a governance crisis in SA.

Gordhan made the comment during a media briefing on the current state of the power utility. Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza and Hadebe were also in that briefing.

The minister said South Africa had a governance issue but that the president took steps to rectify that.

Gordhan mentioned the state capture commission, the new head of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Special Investigations Unit as examples of the steps taken.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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