Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: ANA/Motshwari Mofokeng

Johannesburg - The continuation of frequent load shedding, and in particular stage four load shedding, is unacceptable and disruptive to the economy and action will be taken in this regard, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Sunday.

Gordhan and officials from the ministry met the Eskom board and management on Saturday about the financial and restructuring issues confronting the power utility, the ministry said in a statement.

Board members and Gordhan were briefed over several hours about power supply shortages caused by problems with coal supply and the quality of coal provided to Eskom, low dam storage levels at hydro-plants, diesel supply shortages both to the country and to Eskom, the collapse of power supply imported from Cahora Bassa due to the cyclone natural disaster in Mozambique, and a large number of tube failures and breakdowns at local coal-fired power stations.

“It is clear that greater urgency needs to be applied to acquire equipment necessary for urgent maintenance. We agree with South Africans that the continuation of frequent load shedding, and in particular stage four load shedding, is unacceptable and disruptive to our economy,” Gordhan said in the statement following Saturday's meeting.

The National Treasury and the public enterprises department had committed to assist Eskom to fast-track, with the appropriate oversight, the procurement of essential goods and services required to urgently rehabilitate and repair generating units at local power stations.

Closer examination was also required of the quality of coal delivered to and accepted at Eskom power stations and the further delegation of powers from Eskom’s head office to power station managers, Gordhan said.

In addition, the technical review team began its work last week and would intensify its review of operations at power plants this week. The team would provide important information about plant unit failures and what urgent measures could be implemented to ensure power stations operate at optimal levels.

"The South African public is requested to understand that many power stations are between 37 and 50 years old and many operate at sub-optimal levels due to their age. 

“We have asked Eskom to work with municipalities that supply power to large industrial users and businesses to minimise the disruptive effects of load shedding for our economy," Gordhan said.

Everything possible was being done to normalise electricity supply and Gordhan would brief the media and the public in the coming days on further interventions, the statement said.

African News Agency/ANA