File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Concern over impact of load shedding on vaccine rollout

By IOL Reporter Time of article published May 17, 2021

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Cape Town – With phase 2 of the vaccination rollout starting today across nine provinces and at 87 sites, the DA has called on Eskom to provide an urgent state-of-the-system update and explain how its load-shedding schedule will be managed to ensure it does not affect the rollout process.

Just minutes before it began at 5pm yesterday, Eskom announced load shedding would be implemented until 10pm on Tuesday.

DA Ghaleb Cachalia said on Monday this was yet another reminder that Eskom’s current status, capacity and operational constraints remain an ever-present threat to South Africa’s slow economic recovery. The latest load shedding was due to a ’’failure of three generation units at Tutuka due to loss of air compressors, a unit at Majuba was forced to shut down, while another unit tripped’’, Eskom said on Sunday.

This amid questions having been raised about the stability of the Health Department’s electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) after reports it ’’collapsed’’ last week. More than 1 million people had registered on the EVDS and subsequently needed to receive SMSes confirming their appointments.

The DA had already urged Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in January ’’to give absolute certainty that medical and vaccine storage facilities will be protected against Eskom and his governance incompetence’’.

’’It is of particular concern that load shedding will impact the rollout of vaccines sorely needed in the face of the continuing Covid pandemic,’’ Cachalia said.

’’What is required is a transparent assessment of capacity for the winter months so people and companies can plan ahead. An urgent state of the system update will be key in ensuring that the efficacy and storage of vaccines is not impacted negatively.

’’The return of load shedding underscores the urgent need to open the market to more generation capacity funded by the private sector. The DMRE (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy) needs to up its game in this regard.

’’A case in point is an application form the mining company, Goldfields, for a 40MW plant which took four years to get approval.

’’Eskom and the country is in dire need of additional capacity and it is clear that no further delays must be forthcoming; indeed, an acceleration is called for. We are in urgent need of an augmentation of 4000MWs.

’’A clear mandate for the private sector to step in where the public sector has failed is what is needed – not the dithering and delays as our days dim and darken.

’’Just what the SOE President’s Council is doing or has done since its inception in June 2020 is a matter of concern – even more so as the president appears to be preoccupied with internal party wrangles while the lights dim across the country.

’’The DA demands a decisive announcement from the president, his Council and the two ministers responsible for Eskom and Energy.’’

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