South Africa’s state energy company Eskom is cutting up to 6 000 megawatts (MW) of power from the national grid after heavy rain and flooding triggered failures at its Medupi plant, disrupting supplies to businesses and households across the country.
The cut is the largest since Eskom introduced a programme of rolling blackouts, known locally as load-shedding, in 2008.
We regret and sincerely apologise that stage 4 loadshedding will move to Stage 6 loadshedding as from 18:00 today, as a result of a shortage of capacity. This follows a technical problem at Medupi Power Station impacting additional generation supply. https://t.co/Nxo0ltbuee pic.twitter.com/YXdfI0PzrM
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) December 9, 2019
“This follows a technical problem at Medupi Power Station impacting additional generation supply. The heavy rains have caused coal handling and operational problems at several stations,” Eskom said in a statement on Monday.
The company had earlier said it would cut 4 000 MW from the grid as it entered a fifth day of rolling blackouts.
Large parts of the usually glittering skyline of financial hub Johannesburg were blanketed in darkness on Monday, while malfunctioning traffic lights caused traffic jams stretching out from the city centre into residential suburbs.
Miner Petra Diamonds said it had halted operations at its mines, adding it was bringing all workers back above ground for safety.
Eskom has total nominal capacity of around 44 000 MW. On Monday, the firm said unavailable capacity had risen to about 13 000 MW, forcing it to roll out nationwide blackouts.
An Eskom spokeswoman told local radio that South Africans could be without electricity for many parts of the day.
“Stage 6 load-shedding means customers are likely to get more waves of load-shedding … So you’d get it in the morning, in the afternoon and again in the evening,” Dikatso Mothae said in an interview with radio station Power98.7.
“We’ve prepared for the rain but this flooding has been significant.”