27 April 2014

South Africa: Eskom's R500 Million Extreme Make-Over - Scopa Must Intervene

press release

The DA will write to the chairperson on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, demanding Eskom executives urgently be summoned to Parliament over a proposed R500 million cosmetic upgrade at the state utility's headquarters.

We cannot stand by while the South African public is forced to foot the bill for the mother of all 'extreme make-overs'. To add insult to injury, it is the South African public who will feel the brunt of load-shedding in the winter months ahead.

This comes as the embattled Eskom not only struggles to provide tens of thousands of South African homes with power due to delayed construction at Medupi and Kusile power stations, but also seeks a government "equity injection" of R50 billion to ease its cash-flow problems.

Eskom's dire financial crises is likely to visit higher electricity prices on South Africans and result in wasteful expenditure should government choose to extend further guarantees to cover the power utility's issued debt.

The proposed unnecessary upgrades to Megawatt Park, Eskom's head office in Johannesburg, include:

R3 million earmarked for a VIP entrance and offices, plus R60 8000 for curtaining;

Landscaping at R1, 4 million, featuring LED strip lights and a "timber-clad seating wall" made from Rhodesian teak;

Timber deck walkways, carpet tiles in "Eskom blue" and semi-polished porcelain floor and wall tiles;

Revamped cafés, pause areas with brushed aluminium skirtings, a 9m-high newsstand, feature walls and an awards cabinet;

Air conditioning, heating and ventilation at a cost of R81 million and automatic motorised venetian window blinds; and

A parking area featuring racks to accommodate 244 bicycles and toilet cubicles with custom-designed graphic wallpaper and new sanitaryware.

Ironically, Eskom - the state energy supplier - also requires the installation of a R8,5 million emergency generator and a R6,7 million uninterrupted power supply system in order to ensure the lights stay on at its offices.

The focus of Eskom executives should be in preventing rolling - blackouts, especially over the next few months, instead of seeking to maximise creature comforts at the utility.

South Africans deserve and demand better service.

Eskom executives must be compelled to appear before Parliament so they may account for these ludicrous upgrades and explain what measures have been put in place to prevent blackouts.

Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

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