Home Opinion and Features Load shedding reprieve spells new problem for SA, says Ramokgopa

Load shedding reprieve spells new problem for SA, says Ramokgopa

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Fixing what was broken at Eskom did not just result in South Africa experiencing more than 50 days without load shedding, but has also created a new engineering problem for the power utility, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said.

Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, flanked by KZN MEC for Economic Development Siboniso Duma and the Speaker of eThekwini Municipality, Thabani Nyawose, speaking at the “Engagement with Captains of Industry Business Breakfast” in Durban on Friday. Picture: Supplied

FIXING what was broken at Eskom did not just result in South Africa experiencing more than 50 days without load shedding, but has also created a new engineering problem for the power utility, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said.

He said that to stop load shedding, Eskom had simply repaired the machines that were giving problems, after identifying six power stations that were responsible for 70% of the losses (17,000 MW), known as the unplanned capacity loss factor.

However, the country is not out of the woods yet.

“Three of them have graduated from being problem power stations. Kusile, Majuba have graduated and are some of the best power stations. As a result of that, we have a new problem, which is that we are generating more electricity than we need. As I speak to you, we are putting the machines on cold reserve,” Ramokgopa said.

“We simply say please stop generating, we are generating a lot. That is a new problem that we have. It is adding new engineering problems, by the way, because if we generate more than we consume it may result in a grid collapse.

“I am making that point just to say to you we are not burning diesel. We get to be accused – of course, it is cynicism – people accuse us of burning diesel.”

Ramokgopa was speaking at an “engagement with captains of industry” business breakfast in Durban, hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Siboniso Duma, on Friday.

Among those raising concerns was Spar Group former chairman Graham O’Connor, who said crime was a serious concern for business, particularly on the back of the July 2021 unrest.

“We are very nervous about what is coming over the next couple of weeks with the elections. We need to make sure we deliver and have some discussions with SAPS to ensure there is security in place,” O’Connor said.

“We talk all the time; now, we need action to take place. The point I want to make is that over and above talking, let us do something. One thing we need to do is to improve the issue of water and sanitation.”

Transnet National Port Authority’s acting manager for the Port of Durban, Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi, said they had experienced a lot of adversities, beginning with the 2021 riots, a cyberattack and floods in KwaZulu-Natal, but there have been significant reforms since the appointment of a new board.

“With that board, we have been given direction as a port. About two weeks ago we had a sharing session where we streamlined and identified some of the challenges that we have, especially issues on procurement, supply chain related issues and lack of investment. We put a lot of time on capex utilisation,” he said.

“What we will see now, one problem we had was issues of tugs. These are critical equipment we use for mooring the vessels as they come in or out of the port. We have been having a shortage of these equipment. As we speak now we have five tugs that we are buying. They are currently in Singapore, and from there will go to East London.”

Ben-Mazwi added that there was a road rehabilitation programme around the Port of Durban to enhance the smooth flow of traffic and the condition of the roads because of the change in transport, from rail to road.

“We are also deepening the channel at the Durban Container Terminal as that process is in progress. We are also widening the channels that come into the port. We are also planning to do the same in Maydon Wharf, where we deal a lot with the agriculture issues,” he said.

“There are a lot of things we are doing to deal with the bottlenecks, including the efficiencies and the turnaround of vessels. Currently, we are talking about being able to turn around vessels to be able to deal with 20 big vessels a day.”

Duma, who is also KZN leader of government business, said big business has in the past engaged President Cyril Ramaphosa and the provincial government on the delays in the ports, both in Durban and Richards Bay.

“We remain satisfied with the progress that has been made. We will receive a comprehensive presentation around the work that has been done around our ports,” Duma said.

– BUSINESS REPORT

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