ESKOM is in crisis

Power grid collapsing – public anger rising

It is very doubful that the public has even started to understand the true extent of the ongoing catastrophe that is Eishkom.

According to MoneyWeb, electricity expert Doug Kuni has said that all South Africans can do now about the current electricity situation is to buy candles and a generator. "You are going to need it for the next five to ten years," he said.

And the experts have left. He added.

The Stage 3 "loadshedding" over the weekend clearly showed that Eskom is in a state of serious decline.

Eskom is now producing less power than it was 10 years ago. Yet the number of users have grown dramatically, and intentionally. What is happening was bound to happen, and was predicted more than 15 years ago. Yet the Government did nothing.

Even Eskom is now warning that the whole system could collapse and take weeks to get restarted.

The system IS collapsing. More are more power stations are showing serious signs of distress as their age, lack of full maintainenance, lack of capital investment, and the appointment of seriously under-skilled Ministers and MDs over a 20 year period, are combining to take an ever-greater toll.

The latest in this series of mal-appointments in Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown whose office says she is working with Eskom to ensure urgent action to "get us out of this crisis." Nonsense, what is she smoking? There is no such quick solution to 20 years of maladminstration and neglect.

To the extent that the system is being kept going this appears to being done by working the remaining aging power stations even harder, and spending an unsustainable R2 BILLION (R2000 million!) a month on diesel to fire up generators meant mainly for emergencies and peak periods. And the budget for diesel has been used up.

Meanwhile President Zuma is secretly signing absurd agreements to build Trillion Rand nuclear facilities that the country cannot possibly afford, borrow or wait for.

20 years ago South Africa had a major surplus of electricity. That advantage has been wasted. Now we have a growing shortage that stunts economic growth and prevents job creation. It may well also lead to further downgrades by rating agencies on Friday.

Yes, there are a couple of new powerstations in the works – Medupi and Kusile – they are years overdue and over budget, will not be fully operational for years, and will not even replace the power stations that will have collapased by then.

This is one problem that truly has been "brought to you by the ANC." Post 1994, it has done far more damage to the power grid than those who were blowing up electricity sub-stations pre-1994.

If the party thinks that public anger at the eTolls was a problem at the last election, we suspect it ain’t seen nothing yet. This a crisis that affects every South African – their lives, their pockets and even their jobs and businesses.

Soon Nkandla may seem like a minor bad dream compared to the power crisis, will the whole of South Africa, not just some opposition MPs, angrily chanting "Turn on the lights! TURN ON THE LIGHTS!"

Peter Mansfield is a former Management Chairman, Durban City Council.


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