Eskom plant closure worsens power cuts

Amid nepotism concerns.
Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

Eskom’s own mishandling of a repair contract led to the closure of its Camden power plant, a move that worsened power cuts by South Africa’s near-monopoly electricity provider, the company said.

In its first detailed explanation of the shutdown, Eskom said the initial R635 million contract expired in 2018 amid questions about conflicts of interest and environmental regulations. With the work delayed, Eskom shut the 1,600-megawatt facility in April, saying the dam where it stores ash from burning coal was at risk of bursting.

Eskom this month slashed the electricity supplied to South Africa by between 1,000 megawatts and 2,000 megawatts for a week. Power cuts, known locally as load-shedding, have hindered economic growth since 2008.

“Load shedding is primarily as a result of high levels of unavailability of generation stations, including Camden,” Eskom said in a response to questions.

Eskom, which has debt of about R454 billion, is mired in corruption allegations, many of them related to contracts for the maintenance and construction of power plants. Numerous allegations have been aired at a state commission of inquiry.

The first contract to build an ash-handling plant and dam at the site was initially awarded to Rula Bulk Materials Handling in 2016. But that raised the conflict of interest issue.

Danie Odendaal, an Eskom general manager, was found in an internal probe to have signed off on a technical review used in the tender won by Rula, where his brother Roelf is a shareholder and managing director, a person familiar with the findings said. Danie Odendaal had declared a conflict and shouldn’t have participated in the decision, the person said. Danie Odendaalcouldn’t be reached for comment.

“Danie Odendaal remains suspended and will be going through a disciplinary process,” Eskom said. “The details are matters between employer and employee.”

The delay was worsened after Rula said the drawings for the project were its intellectual property, forcing the new contractor, Wilson-Bayly Holmes-Ovcon Ltd., to redo the design. Eskom also said Rula breached the water-use license by building a site office on a wetland.

Roelf Odendaal rejected Eskom’s explanations, saying his brother played no role. The delays were “caused by a lack of decisionmaking” by Eskom, he said.

Camden is scheduled to reopen in September, according to Eskom.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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You really could not make this stuff up!

I think everyone outside of the NCCC, has now realised that we are on the brink of catastrophic failure at Eskom. We will say 2yrs from now, remember when we only used to have stage 8…

So the economy is barely up and running at 50% of pre-lockdown levels (which was already shockingly down on the 2007 peak). Yet we still cannot cope. How much extra repair work was done in lockdown? I would hazard absolutely none, in fact quite the opposite – fully paid employees watching DSTV at home for 3mths, like every other SOE or government office, only the bare minimum of staff rotated in and out.

Well in RSAs defence – i can say that even today as i type this – if a country like the UK only has 10% of its HMRC (SARS) staff back at work for fear of covid (i kid you not) and only 20% of most government offices – how can we expect anything better here!?

Imagine if you will, what could be achieved at ESKOM, if the NCCC focused as much effort just for a period of 3mths, as they did in enforcing the Tshirts&Slops rules, alcohol&cigarette bans and wearing face masks alone in your car rules!

Another failed experiment in socialism

I would say another successful experiment in socialism…the doctrine that killed 100m+ people in the past 100 years…

Plain and simple this government is a failure and dont know how.

“Eskom’s own mishandling of a repair contract led to the closure of its Camden power plant, a move that worsened power cuts by South Africa’s near-monopoly electricity provider, the company said”

Is this the usual politspeak for having given this job to yet another ANC-linked tenderpreneur who has no clue as to how to repair the problem?

Ja/nee/maybe. I have done some work at Camden and my polite view is that management is way too lightweight, inexperienced, maybe unqualified as well as not empowered to make the decisions that need to be made at the right time. They are way too worried about following procedure, regardless of delays, and their lunchtimes. The ash dam possibly had as much money spent on investigation and recommendations for repair as the repair itself, particularly if this had been done on the priority sections first.

But nobody there really cared; right to the very top of Eskom and SA methinks.

We have had loadshedding starting 13 YEARS AGO. They have not managed to fix it in 13 YEARS !!!! IDIJITS ALL>

It just never ends. Is it time to call for the removal of CR? Until we get someone who can put the country ahead of the awful ANC nothing will change.

…..Africa ….the story so far is every consecutive leader is more pathetic than the previous…

Cyril Rama has no stomach for decisive decisions to steer the country back onto its tracks

So who within the anc would you nominate as our saviour?

OK, here’s the line of succession for CR:

1. DD Mabuza
2. NDZ
3. Ace Magashule.

That sounds like re-appointing Jacob Zuma with extra steps.

I have already switched to gas for cooking and a gas heater to keep warm during winter. Next step is solar for heating water. I’m told there is a Levy for installing solar panels on your roof. Spy Drones photographing suburban roofs. Is this true?

Just the municipality wants to milk the taxpayers more.

Councils using “Spy Drones” ….

If they did take to the skies one could imagine and several conclusions…

Hijacking excuse by the council user would be one

GPS navigation errors would be another

Leah, the spy drones are actually owned by private companies. Municipalities are now required to include aerial and street view photographs, with GPS coordinates, of each item on their Asset Registers. A few bright IT guys saw the opportunity and is now selling these services to municipalities. So, no spying, just all in a day’s work.

No levy that I know of.

Dropped geyser temp and changed all my lights to LED – dropped my bill by 20%

Not sure that helps Eskom but def helps me.

Do the taxi-industry equivalent with tax and unsubscribe from the system!

…… Soon they gonna have to be billing us 5k a month just to empty the damn bins….

To be fair to municipalities, just the facts: NERSA has published regulations as early as September 2011 which instructed municipalities to report to NERSA on a monthly basis on all small scale embedded installations in their licensed areas of supply. What they wanted to do with this information, I could never establish, because NERSA never gave any feedback on the +- 20 spreadsheets of information we had to submit to them every year, but these instructions did put the burden of finding all this installations to report on it. I am not aware of any municipality who actually charges any fees, but some did develop agreements for the purchase of electricity from this small scale generators.

Nepotism is the ANC’s middle name.

A country with electricity problems? Eish! What a disgrace!

What’s coming in South Africa is going to make ‘a country with electricity problems’ look like child’s play.

The Camden incident raises a very real issue in state owned enterprises. The Supply Chain Regulations have become so complicated, that it is nearly impossible for an engineer to get a project done. Every time someone is dishonest, instead of dealing with that person, Treasury just adds another set of regulations. If a disgruntled contractor lays a complaint because he did not get the tender, the whole process is stopped. I know a number of engineers in Eskom who will tell you that they just can not get a job started because of this system and the lack of decision making. The financial and auditing people now have more say over a technical project than the engineers. That is also one of the main reasons why municipal projects are seldom completed on time.

Ah, someone with experience. Now add the safety and environmental layers (all necessary, but not taking the time and cost that they do) and nothing gets done in any reasonable time frame as well as providing a great excuse for non-performance. Similar for municipalities.

All the talk is now about the hopeless performance (or rather non-performance) of our dear electricity supplier. Wait until the subject matter becomes water. No amount of solar heating or generators are going to help with that one. And bore-holes are certainly subject to registration / notification in some form or other, if you’re so lucky to have one. More ill winds to blow I’m afraid.

Another bunch of crooks that has not been locked up.

Dont cry SA dont cry.

What a shame but there is no hope to Eskom and SA as a whole!
Corruption, proven at Eskom is a huge problem but on top of it add all the many entitled people who are claiming land everywhere( this includes farms, parks, golf courses any so called “empty spaces”)and building informal settlements all over. This causes water pollution and all the illegal electricity connections also!
Where are all these people coming from!
One of the missing education lessons in SA might be reproductive health, please add it to the non existent financial health lessons!

ESKAM is a professional criminal enterprise run by a host of cadres who thrive on such attributes as incompetence, nepotism, greed, etc.
Note that, as with state capture, absolutely no one has been arrested.

Hmmm … so how do you employ the 50% now unemployed without a reliable source of power?

End of comments.

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