The country’s new mega power plants are taking longer than expected to be completed, thus causing the load-shedding crisis to worsen.
The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises was informed of the delays in completing projects, notably Kusile in Mpumalanga, during a recent oversight visit to Eskom’s Medupi Power Station in Lephalale, Limpopo.
“The committee heard from the power station management that delays in the completion of the Medupi and Kusile power plants have contributed to the country’s load-shedding problem,” the committee chairperson, Khaya Magaxa, stated.
Magaxa said the committee has, however, appreciated the progress in Medupi, where the main construction is almost complete, and the current work of fixing defects is underway.
In spite of Medupi being built since 2007, construction costs to date have ballooned to R123 billion.
According to Magaxa, “Executives admitted that the delayed completion of the two mega projects, aged power plants, and inadequate maintenance are contributing to the country’s insecurity in electricity supply.”
“As a country, we are worried about the problem of load-shedding. We hope these two plants will assist in changing the situation. “We can not grow the economy unless we have an efficient energy supply,” Magaxa added.
The construction of Kusile began in 2008 and has cost the government over R140 billion to date.
He stated that the committee appreciated the work done at the power plant and hoped that, once completed, the plant would aid in resolving the country’s electricity shortages.
According to the committee, three energy producing units at Kusile have been completed, while the remaining three are between 85 and 98 percent complete.
However, the committee was dissatisfied with the unfinished Wilge Flats project, which was shelved when costs soared from around R200 million to over R800 million.
“The flats were supposed to accommodate artisans working on Kusile’s construction and were afterwards occupied by Eskom personnel once the project was completed, but they were never used because the project was never completed.
Eskom management informed the committee that the facility was being decommissioned, adding that the Department of Public Works and the Department of Human Settlements were the two potential buyers.
According to Magaxa, the committee has decided to request Eskom’s executive and board to provide a full report on the White Flats situation.
“We anticipate that the findings of the Special Investigative Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority will identify the perpetrators of any wrongdoing, and we will want to see the problem resolved as soon as possible,” Magaxa said.