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Saldanha Bay tensions rise over planned powership licence deals

A protest against Turkish emergency powerships deal in Saldanha Bay. HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

A protest against Turkish emergency powerships deal in Saldanha Bay. HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 2, 2021


CAPE TOWN - Tensions over the approved power generation licences has been ripping fishing communities apart in Saldanha Bay.

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The issues that are brewing in the community stem from the approved emergency power generation licence applications, part of the government’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme in the area.

According to a report, the development plans to see gas-to-electricity powerships being anchored in the ports of Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay and Coega. Around 1 220MW of electricity is planned to be generated between the three powerships, provided through floating storage and re-gasification power plants.

A protest against Turkish emergency powerships deal in Saldanha Bay. HENK KRUGER African News Agency (ANA)

While some locals view the development as a danger to the livelihoods of small-scale fishermen in the region, community leader Paulina Mali sees the power intake as an opportunity for the community, given the area’s severe load-shedding hours.

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“As a mother, a community leader, a grandmother and a great-grandmother, I bear witness to how load shedding is crippling us. We can clearly see that there’s no more electricity in South Africa because we used to buy electricity say for R100, you would get say 66 units, but now you get 44 or 39 units; my concern with the development takes place, is that it will be generating electricity 120 megawatts per day which can help us in our household as well our children.”

“I think we can benefit from it this development. I know that the Green Connection's Community Outreach is talking about polluting the ocean but every day we see big ships come here, why didn’t they pollute the sea? Right now, I am more concerned about whether the developers will supply locals with access to the power that is being generated or not,” said Mali.

Public Safety Mayco member Andre Truter, at Saldanha Bay Municipality, said that as much as he is in full support of the efforts to bring new opportunities to the area, natural resources and the environment at large should be protected as well.

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“Additionally, job opportunities cannot be at the expense of others. I think the fishing community is often overlooked and not heard. I think they have a legitimate reason to be concerned, however, solution and protection of this precious industry, is in the hands of national government, not local.”

In a media response, Karpowership SA assured that, as the country focuses on rebuilding the economy, businesses and communities can rest assured that the powerships will mitigate the impact of load shedding and its effect on livelihoods.

“KPSA will stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow South Africans, bridging the energy gap with a clean, reliable, cost-effective source of power.

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“Powerships will contribute to the avoidance of load shedding during peak periods and when unplanned breakdowns occur at other power plants in the system. Powerships are also a cost-effective way to procure and deliver reliable electricity with inherent additional benefits to the grid system,” it said.

“As part of our commitment to the South African government’s just energy transition, KPSA has committed to ensure that at least 65% of our workforce will be South African, employed from local communities.

“As a responsible corporate citizen that operates in accordance with global standards and best practice, KPSA will ensure and maintain all local and international environmental codes and practices in order to preserve, protect and enhance South Africa’s oceans, ports and sensitive environmental areas,” said Karpowership.

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