Ramaphosa cuts short Egypt trip to resolve Eskom crisis

Published Dec 10, 2019


Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his official visit to Egypt, after holding official talks with President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, to attend to problems at power utility Eskom and to visit flood ravaged communities in Gauteng.

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko said the president had left Cairo and would on Wednesday meet with the board and management of Eskom, "where he will be briefed on plans to mitigate and resolve the current electricity crisis affecting most of the country".

Ramaphosa's trip to Egypt in the midst of Stage 6 rotational blackouts caused anger among citizens, who accused him of showing a lack of leadership at a time of national crisis. 

"President Ramaphosa will also visit the operations centre at Eskom headquarters at Megawatt Park in Gauteng," said Diko.

She said Ramaphosa was scheduled to participate in a high-level panel at the Inaugural Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development on Wednesday, "but has returned to South Africa to attend to urgent domestic priorities". 

The focus of the Egypt visit was to strengthen bilateral and economic relations with the largest export market in North Africa for South African goods. 

"The leaders of both countries further discussed new avenues of cooperation in trade and investments; including infrastructure, manufacturing and agro-processing," said Diko.

Ramaphosa is also expected to visit Tembisa on Gauteng's East Rand where communities have been severely impacted by the recent rains, leading to wide scale flooding. 

"The president will meet with local residents, community leaders and provincial officials managing the support being given to the stricken community," said Diko.

State power utility Eskom apologised to South Africans on Monday after abruptly implementing stage 6 load shedding, an unprecedented move in which it suppressed up to 6,000 megawatts of electricity demand to avoid a total collapse of the strained national grid.

The Cape Town city council's water and sanitation department alerted residents that some areas may experience intermittent supply should Eskom again effect stage 6 rolling blackouts.

The electricity company initiated stage 6 blackouts from 6 pm until 10 pm on Monday, before scaling down to stage 4, which entails throttling 4,000 MW of demand at any given time. Stage 4 will remain in place until 11pm on Tuesday.  

Eskom said Monday's emergency shift to stage 6 had been necessitated by a high rate of generating unit breakdowns, with the failure of power supply to the incline conveyors feeding coal to the silos at its Medupi power station further contributing to the capacity shortage. Technical teams had worked around the clock so coal handling operations could resume at Medupi.

"Eskom unreservedly apologises to all South Africans for the inconvenience during this difficult period," acting group chief executive and interim executive chairman Jabu Mabuza said. "In addition, we remain grateful to large power users for their invaluable assistance offered today."

African News Agency (ANA)

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