Avin Maharaj. Screengrab

Johannesburg - Avin Maharaj has been appointed as the new boss at Eskom’s Kusile Power Station. Maharaj’s appointment comes just six days after Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan hinted at bringing "many good people" back to Eskom, and it appears on the basis of the minister’s comments, Maharaj was one of them. 

Maharaj, who was a consultant for a global firm at the Medupi and Kusile power stations since March last year, has a personal motto: ‘If you can’t do good, do no harm”. He returns to the power utility with over 20 years experience under his belt, including stints abroad in the Philippines.  

Gordhan gave a wide-ranging interview to Fin24 last week, where he was quoted as saying: "Many good people have left, and many top power station managers are working in the Philippines and elsewhere. 

“And what I heard is that the then-management replaced power station managers so that they could control procurement, and could manage them, and therefore manage what happened at a power station. 

“When Jabu Mabuza’s board came in, it took them a while to figure out what was going on, but by the end of 2018 they started to rotate power station managers," he said. 

Maharaj reportedly left Eskom three years ago to join the Redondo Peninsula Energy company in the Philippines as its vice president for project and construction management. Two years later, he returned to South Africa as a project consultant for HKA Global Ltd since March last year. 

“Project Consultant for HKA on the Medupi and Kusile Power Station Projects dealing with major and latent defects on boiler plant,” wrote Maharaj.

He is set to take over as power plant manager at Kusile.  

"The new chief executive and management must ensure that we use all the available skills and experience available in the country to assist Eskom to recover. It will take time. But it can be done with the help of all stakeholders," Gordhan told News24 last week. 

On his LinkedIn profile, Maharaj said he had 20 years experience in electrical power generation, green and brown-fields coal, as well as clean and renewable energy.

“With over 20 years of service in both the Southern African and Philippines Power Industries, as an Executive Project Director / Manager, Contracts / Claims Executive, Health & Safety Specialist; Avin Maharaj leverages proven expertise and experience in collaborating within diverse cultures and directing both small ($10 million) and mega (>$10 billion) projects, with a focus on process turn-around and high-level enhancement of ROI (return on investment),” his profile reads.

“Avin proactively engages with role-players at both the site and corporate level. His acute commercial intelligence includes working in internationally accepted contract formats, on a global scale.

“In 2017 Avin joined the Philippines based RP Energy to oversee the construction of two 300MW circulating fluidised bed coal powered generating units, as vice president of project & construction management he has put in place all requirements necessary for effective construction execution.

“As a driving force behind Eskom’s generation project portfolio, including green & brown-fields coal, wind, concentrated solar and rail infrastructure; Avin has successfully led diverse teams comprising of 20 to 600 multi-disciplinary staff members, improving performance and meeting corporate objectives across the project value chain.

“He consistently employs best-practice business solutions, successful project turnaround strategies and profit-making evolution at the international corporate level.

Eskom’s acting spokesperson, Dikatso Mothae, told Eyewitness News that Maharaj had the expertise to thrive on the task ahead. 

“He has the experience and has project management experience. We believe he’ll help us get Kusile to completion,” she said. 

On his LinkedIn profile, it showed that Maharaj acquired his electrical and mechanical engineering diplomas at St Oldwald’s Technical College. 

He also holds a NQF Level 6 (diploma) qualification in management development, from Unisa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership. 

He also attended an executive leadership programme course at the University of Texas, and he is currently reading towards his masters degree in project management, at the University of Salford in England. 

Maharaj is also a licensed project management professional. 

Former colleagues wrote glowingly about him on his profile. 

Yoran Mogaladi, who now works for Necsa as a commercialisation manager, wrote in 2016 of his former colleague: “I had the privilege of working under Avin in his capacity as a project executive for Eskom Road-to-Rail Programme (amongst other programmes under his oversight) and found him to be a broadly experienced and knowledgeable professional in energy-related infrastructure space. 

“His admirable leadership qualities that had the effect of garnering the support of his project management teams towards achieving common project and, ultimately, business objectives,” he said.

Tony Hall, who is described as a mining professional, wrote in January five years ago: “Avin has excellent project management skills and leads by example. Allows for open discussion to resolve issues and is a detailed oriented person”.
Babongile Sabelo, who is described as a senior advisor at his firm, wrote of glowingly of Maharaj seven years ago. 
“Avin Maharaj is a well organised energetic executive manager, goal and result driven individual. He has excellent people's skill, excellent communication skill, a team leader and team player at the same time. 

“An individual who believes in expressing his appreciation to his subordinates for the effort each one brings in, to ensuring that the best end product of the project is obtained, thus encouraging every team player to work even harder to get even greater achievements in future with the projects. 

“He carries out his role with great determination and drive. Avin is a role model to current leaders and the future upcoming leaders, a catalyst for great achievements.

IOL