22 March 2019

South Africa: Eskom - Not Knowing What the Problem Is Is the Problem

Photo: Eskom
Eskom's national control centre (file photo).
analysis

Eskom has hit a brick wall and, by all accounts, no one in any position of authority can tell us why or how this has happened.

Minister Pravin Gordhan publicly stated that "we" do not know what the problem is, but please be patient while someone figures it out.

At Tuesday's press conference, Eskom board Chair Jabu Mabuza said that the operational side of the power utility needs a "crisis reaction". Less than a year ago, he wrote the following in Eskom's annual report:

"No one can deny that Eskom has experienced a tumultuous year. This was not due to operational issues - our generation plant and network produced solid performance."

We have no explanation for how we got from one great position to the next disastrous one, or even if we were in the first position to begin with.

Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer stated in the same press conference that boilers are central to the operation of all generation units (i.e. they should be a really important part of his job), but then professed his complete ignorance with respect to the maintenance programme around these mission-critical boilers.

While it is usual in these circumstances to focus blame solely...

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