WHILE Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa celebrated the return of unit 1 at Kusile power station ahead of schedule as a step to ending the electricity crisis, South Africans have voiced their dissatisfaction at the cost behind it all.
The units at the Kusile power station, one of the oldest coal-fired power stations in the country, were out of commission as of August 2022 due to safety concerns of the structural integrity of the stack.
Last month, the electricity minister highlighted how progress had been made as a result of the exemption granted by the minister following a request made by Eskom to exceed the licence emissions parameters at Kusile in light of the issues associated with the flue gas desulphurisation unit.
He explained that following the 12-month reprieve given to exceed emissions licence parameters at the station, they would be able to turn on the units gradually between October and November, with unit 5 to be turned on around December.
However, with unit 1 returning to service two months ahead of schedule, the minister has commended the work done by the team at Eskom's generation unit for the additional 800 megawatts capacity.
This comes as he highlighted how the additional capacity would bring back stability and credibility to Eskom while reducing the intensity and severity of load shedding.
“The return of the Kusile units represents a critical milestone in our quest to recover South Africa’s economy, protecting jobs, advancing universal access and improving the quality of life.”
The ministry further added that unit 2 was expected to return to service in November, with plans to start unit 5 during December still on track.
Despite the assurance that an end to load shedding was on the horizon, soon, social media users have shared mixed reactions to the news, with some dismissing it as an electioneering ploy by the ruling ANC government.
“We see you are campaigning for elections and they know how to act @MYANC. After elections it’s back to excuses and stage 6 as they did after the BRICS summit,” wrote one user.
Wendy Matsemela commented: “Those who came before the Buffalo were told about this challenging situation but they literally did nothing. Thank you President Ramaphosa for reflecting that indeed the ANC is a caring government.”
Another user commented: “Only 10 years late and 1000% over budget.”
Even the petition on Change.org started by Rick Bronkhorst during April, which called for the removal of Ramokgopa and the ministry in the presidency, gained over 50 signatures this week despite the positive developments.