Load shedding expected as utility battles to stay ahead with maintenance
Ted Blom said yesterday that Eskom had not been able to keep up with maintenance during lockdown due to the shutdown of international flights and unions preventing contractors from working.
He added that Eskom’s plan to “unbundle” into three divisions - generation, transmission and distribution - was “window dressing” that would not alleviate the power utility’s history of bad management.
Blom argued that Eskom had operated generation, transmission and distribution as separate departments since 1988, and the “unbundling” was a “deck chair moving” exercise.
“This whole unbundling is just window dressing to try and distract from the disaster Eskom has become and, inherently, all that is being acknowledged is the incompetence of the government and Eskom to manage the organisation,” he said.
“They think if they slice and dice it into pieces they will be able to understand it better. If they have decent accounts they can see what is happening and hire a world-class manager.”
Blom said he believed the country was in for “more severe load shedding by the end of July” despite Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter’s earlier assurances to Parliament that it was working hard to avoid the possibility of load shedding.
De Ruyter told a public enterprises parliamentary portfolio committee meeting last month that there was an 80% possibility of three days of winter load shedding, a 20% possibility of 52 days and a third scenario where 73 of the 91 days in the third quarter could experience load shedding.
“Nothing has changed, it’s still the same Eskom," said Blom.
“They made promises they would fix it up during the Covid-19 lockdown but, of course, it’s nonsense because the unions wouldn’t let people work. And if you want to replace parts, they are all imported and you have to bring them here, but the flights stopped in May,” Blom said. “They also don’t have the money to pay for the parts and all the work done at Eskom is by sub-contractors.”
Environmental NGO GroundWork researcher David Hallowes said the organisation supported the unbundling, but not privatisation, which he said clearly was not off the government’s table considering recent public comments by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
He added that the introduction of additional independent power producers would not fix the problem of load shedding, the solution of which depended on good management.