The delay in completion of the Medupi power station – which will place even more strain on the already overloaded grid – is a result of sabotage.
This was according to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), who claimed that the project was being purposely delayed by contractors who were profiting from the delay.
Numsa’s general secretary, Irvin Jim, called for a probe of possible collusion between the contractors and sub-contractors.
“The delays point to a form of sabotage by companies that are not serious about the deadlines,” he said.
He labelled companies that intentionally delayed government projects to increase their profit “hyenas that see an opportunity to take money from the state”.
The power station was originally scheduled to be finished late last year. That deadline was pushed back to December this year.
Now it’s been pushed back further.
The delay will probably push construction costs from R91.2 billion (up from the original R80bn) to R105bn.
It could also result in a supply gap of 700 megawatts (MW) during peak periods next year, the equivalent of one-third of Joburg’s usage during those times.
But Eskom – which said yesterday that Medupi would only come online in the second half of next year – have blamed labour problems for the delay.
The police in Limpopo have said they are investigating the possibility of sabotage after a worker on the Medupi site was discovered to be in possession of blasting cartridges last week.
“The man alleges that he found blasting cartridges inside the premises earlier during June,” said police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Ronel Otto.
She said the cleaner claimed that he put the cartridges in a shed and forgot about them until he told his supervisor last Wednesday.
“The police were called and the pieces were taken away by members of the bomb disposal unit for further investigation,” Otto said.
The worker appeared in court last Friday on a charge of possession of unlicensed explosives.
Although many contractors and workers had not delivered on their work at Medupi, Eskom was ultimately responsible, said Chris Yelland, an energy analyst and managing director of electricity news company EE Publishers.
Yelland said the supply gap of 700MW during peak hours would place strain on the grid.
“A big city like Joburg is around 2 000MW (during peak hours), so the supply gap is about a third,” Yelland said.
He also said the date when power from Medupi would be commercially available could be a year and a half away.- The Star