Blackouts looming again

The shutdown, which has sparked renewed fears of load-
shedding, is believed to be linked to the laying-off of
workers following the completion of some phases of the
construction work.
The violence broke out when 1100 workers were locked out
of the plant on Saturday after protests on Friday.
Yesterday, Eskom and contractors Hiatchi Murray & Roberts
Projects, and Hiatchi Kaesa, urged non-strikers to leave the
site for their own safety after 25 workers were injured when
buses were stoned outside the plant.
The R91-billion power station was meant to come on-line
by the end of next year, producing 4764MW of power.
In September, protesters caused millions of rands of
damage to construction equipment .
In response , Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba
established a task team to investigate ways of avoiding
strikes.
Energy Intensive User Group spokesman Shaun Nel said the
latest strike could have a huge effect on industry and power
supplies.
The group represents Eskom’s largest mining and industrial
customers, all of whom consume vast amounts of
electricity.
Nel said the strike would cause huge delays in power
delivery.
"We are in a severely constrained environment.
"Eskom has asked lots of our members to cut back on
power usage to avoid load-shedding.
"Any further delays will exacerbate our problems."
"It is a double whammy. We do not have access to power
and, on top of that, the cost of power will increase," he
said.
Nel said Eskom’s contractors were facing huge penalties for
not delivering on time..
He said it was urgent that industrial relations be normalised
"so Eskom can return to powering the economy".
Eskom spokesman Hillary Joffe confirmed that construction
at Medupi had been halted.
"It is out of fear for the safety of workers and property.
"The latest protest stems from the 1100 workers locked out
of the site at the weekend," she said.
Asked about the Energy Intensive User Group’s concerns,
Joffe said: "The power system will be tight for the next
couple of years.
"We have not changed the project’s commencement
deadline.
"These [new] power stations are vital. We have committed
to a deadline of this year.
"In terms of costs, these have not changed. The project
remains at R91-billion," she said.
Declining to discuss penalties, Joffe said: "If there are
penalties they will depend on the nature of the contract."
Public Enterprises spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said:
"The reality is construction projects end and workforces
decline.
"We are working with the provincial government to establish
academies to help skill workers."
He said that construction delays could affect the
government’s "deliverables and commitments".
"We are monitoring delays and will ensure Eskom sticks to
the timelines."

Source: timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/01/17/load-shedding-fears-rise

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