More sabotage uncovered at Eskom’s Hendrina power station

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says the incident of cable theft at the Hendrina Power Station by people suspected to work at the plant is, along with several other incidents, the reason that millions of South Africans have had to sit in the dark this week.

Gordhan said this when he tabled the department’s Budget Vote at a plenary of the National Assembly on Friday.

“I was informed by the management of Eskom this morning that yet another incident has taken place at the Hendrina Power Station, where an important cable which is required to start a unit that was undergoing repairs and to get it synchronised with the rest of the system was cut,” he said.

“So these flexible copper bars which are required to synchronise this unit to the rest of the power infrastructure was stolen next to the generator and the reactor earth bars, as they are called, were also stolen by obviously people working within the power station.”

This comes as Eskom has implemented stage 2 load shedding every day between 17:00 and 22:00 this week, with this escalating to stage 3 on Tuesday.

Gordhan said this incident, along with other incidents, was the reason most South Africans found themselves without electricity this week.

“These are among other revelations that have occurred over the past few days — the corruption with the supply of oil, the cable that was cut at another power station a few days ago — these are all directly related to the load shedding that we experience today over and above other operational issues,” he said.

“I thought it was important that the public is aware of some of the challenges we face, something that I will return to.”

Gordhan said the acts of “the greedy, the corrupt, the bully, the counter-revolutionary set back our progress as a democracy and stop us from becoming a caring nation”.

“While they sit back to enjoy their spoils, the damage they cause is borne by our communities — by workers, by small businesses, by the unemployed and youth,” Gordhan said.

“Now is the time for all of us to join the ranks of those who want to build a better future and better institutions and not just point fingers among us.”

“Now is the time to care for the hungry, the marginalised, those in despair. Nothing can destroy the might of an organised people driven by a clear vision and who take their destiny into their own hands and change the course of history.”

Eskom taking urgent steps to improve generation performance

Gordhan said Eskom’s generation is underperforming, with the Energy Availability Factor languishing at 58%, as opposed to the target of 75% set out in the IRP2019.

Eskom is taking urgent steps to improve the performance of generation.

“Daily production and oversight meetings are held to hold power station management accountable for performance. An operations excellence initiative is also in place to identify the major causes of underperformance and to make improvements,” the minister said.

“At selected power stations war rooms will be set up to ensure that production challenges get tackled in a systematic way.”

He said a skills mentoring programme, using highly experienced power station managers, has been launched.

“This team will be deployed to power stations where load losses are particularly severe.”

Now read: Eskom power station sabotaged — fifth time in a year

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More sabotage uncovered at Eskom’s Hendrina power station