Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has launched a scathing attack on Eskom, claiming that the state-run power utility is preventing a solution that could ensure no load-shedding for Johannesburg citizens.
In a column on PoliticsWeb, Mashaba said that the City of Johannesburg received a letter in December 2018 from Eskom which rejected the city’s request to nullify its load-shedding issues by using power that is independently generated by the Kelvin Power Station.
“Kelvin Power Station is an independent power producer that the City had been contracted to for the procurement of additional electricity as and when required,” said Mashaba.
However, upon Mashaba taking up office, Eskom withdrew from funding this arrangement and left the City of Johannesburg to foot the bill.
“We have informed Eskom that we reject their position of refusing our request to offset load-shedding with independently generated power, and are willing to proceed to the courts to fight for the residents of Johannesburg to receive this benefit for which they are already paying,” said Mashaba.
“If our residents are paying for it, and it is not being generated by Eskom, there is no rational basis for preventing us from using the 200MW produced at Kelvin to mitigate the crippling effects of load-shedding.”
Mashaba said that no prior warning was issued to the City of Johannesburg by Eskom regarding the possibility of load-shedding returning.
According to Mashaba, the 200MW of power produced by Kelvin is the same amount that Johannesburg was required to shed during stage 2, meaning that if the use of this power had been allowed, Johannesburg residents may not have suffered load-shedding yesterday.
Mashaba also highlighted the City of Johannesburg is engaging with the Kelvin Power Station to determine whether a new contract could be negotiated that increases the output of power and reduces the cost of this power to the City of Johannesburg.
“If this is achieved, the City has the license to procure 600MW from Kelvin, which has the ability to prevent all load shedding up to, and including, Stage 6,” said Mashaba.
Mashaba lambasted the fact that South Africans are being punished by being forced to pay for the “failure and corruption that has crippled Eskom over many years”.
According to Mashaba, Eskom’s tariffs have risen by a compounded 368% over the past decade.
He also highlighted that when he opposed a 13.1% increase in electricity prices, Eskom responded to increase the tariff to 15%.
“It is inconceivable that the City of Johannesburg has the ability to protect its residents and economy from the crippling impacts of load-shedding, yet we are being frustrated from doing so.”
Load-shedding is back
Eskom announced on Wednesday 16 October that load-shedding was returning, and implemented its stage 2 schedule from 9:00 until 23:00.
This affected the matric final exams of Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and Information Technology (IT) students, some of whom had to wait hours in quarantine for the power to return.
The Western Cape Education Department alone said that it was aware of about 30 exam centres that were affected by load-shedding.
In these centres where matric students were writing IT and CAT exams and the power went out, special protocols were implemented to ensure the completion of the exam.
Under these protocols, no learner is allowed to leave the examination venue.
“Learners that had already begun the exam, will continue with where they left off once the electricity comes back on,” the department said.
“There is an automatic save function so that learners do not lose the work already completed in event of an electrical shortage or malfunctioning.”