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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Stage 6: Eskom employee describes nerve-wracking, stressful work environment

Employees have 'given up' trying to understand what is going on, they read about developments about Eskom in the newspapers.


As South Africans buckle under a second week of stage 6 load shedding, an Eskom employee described the situation at the parastatal as “nerve-wracking”.

The employee, who agreed to speak anonymously, said they only knew what they read in the newspapers about developments at the power utility.

Employee concerned about top management resignation

“Load shedding is nerve-wracking. Everyone is stressed. The resignation of top management doesn’t make things easier because it’s just politics, it’s scary. I do my work and keep out of it. As employees, we have given up trying to understand what was going on”.

The employee said underspent budgets would be used for generation capacity.

“To get budgets approved is impossible,” said the employee.

ALSO READ: City Power infrastructure also old, battling with load shedding

Residents ‘gatvol’

Carla Odendaal from the Free State said she was “beyond gatvol”.

“I have to throw away food that goes off in the fridge because we have up to 10 hours of load shedding a day. The fridge doesn’t get a chance to freeze properly,” she said.

Odendaal said she had to plan her day and meals around load shedding.

“It’s challenging. The power is off from 6 am to 10 am and then again from 2 pm to 6 pm,” she said.

Odendaal said some nights she only started cooking at 8 pm when the power returned.

“I think everyone is gatvol and now they want to increase the electricity prices but we have minimum power. It’s ridiculous,” she said.

Marinda Erasmus from North West said Eskom had to disconnect the illegal connections to help save on power.

“We have 10 hours of load shedding in Christiana and no water because it can’t be processed or pumped,” she said.

She said they also had no signal during load shedding.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa: ANC’s top priority is to end load shedding

Load shedding back ups are buckling under pressure

“Our UPS for the fibre only lasts an hour because it can’t recharge fast enough with all the power cuts,” she added.

Economist Dawie Roodt said a low-stage load shedding restricted economic growth by about 1.5 %.

Roodt said in a normal economic state the growth rate was on average about 3 %.

“We are growing at half of the tempo at low load shedding levels. With higher stages, we get less than 1.5% growth,” he said.

Roodt warned if the high levels of load shedding persisted it could push the growth rate down to under 1%.

“That means we will only get poorer and more unemployment,” he said.

ALSO READ: Eskom imposes stage 6 load shedding until further notice

Higher cost of diesel

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)’s Whip Steve Swart MP questioned the decision by the Department of Energy not to grant a wholesaler licence to Eskom to purchase diesel.

Swart said it resulted in Eskom paying a significantly higher price for diesel for the Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT), used to reduce the load shedding.

Swart said more had to be done to solve the systemic challenges facing the utility, including allowing independent power producers to play a far greater role in terms of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme (REIPPP) to generate much-needed additional energy.

“The request for proposals for Bid Window 5 announced in 2019, was only released in 2021. Only three agreements were signed in September last year.

“On 9 December 2022, an additional 13 of the totals envisaged 25 projects were signed. What was supposed to be 25 projects totaling 2500 MW will now only be 1759 MW of renewable wind and solar capacity.

“Despite the promise of 3000 MW of energy, this additional capacity which should have already been online was only expected to be available in early 2025,” he said.

Swart said the R2.5 billion in punitive reparations to be paid to the country by ABB Ltd for the serious crimes committed at Eskom should be used for additional diesel purchases.

ALSO READ: Dark days ahead as Eskom continues with load shedding

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said on 29 December “the application did not meet certain requirements, the details of which have been shared with Eskom as the applicant.

As the per the legislated application process, Eskom can appeal the decision of the Controller of Petroleum Products to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy”.

”That appeal has not been received by the Minister,” the department stated.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen MP has called on citizens to join a major protest march to the Luthuli House on 25 January against what the party described as an ANC-engineered electricity crisis.

“Stage 6 load shedding costs South Africa between four and six billion rands per day,” he said.

Steenhuisen said we couldn’t accept 11 hours of load shedding a day while households battled to put food on the table and businesses struggled to pay their staff.

marizkac@citizen.co.za

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