Update: Eskom has implemented stage 1 load shedding.
City officials have warned of possible blackouts hitting some parts of Johannesburg this evening, due to Eskom’s systems being under stress.
DA City of Joburg councillor, David Potter took to social media platform, Twitter, on Thursday evening to warn users that “stage 2 load shedding” could hit certain parts of the city.
“Details are very minimal at this stage, but expect possible load shedding in Bryanston, Athol & Benmore & suburbs in the East of Johannesburg that are supplied by the Kelvin Substation,” he said.
According to Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, load shedding is an action that needs to be declared in terms of the relevant regulations and law, and currently no such action has been declared.
He said that notice was given to affected municipalities at 14h00 this afternoon that the power utility’s systems were strained, and the risk for power outages was high – but no new updates had been given since then.
Echoing statements from earlier in the day, he said Eskom couldn’t guarantee the security of its system under current circumstances.
The power utility issued the following statement:
“The power system will be constrained this evening, due to the unavailability of some of our generating units. Eskom calls on consumers to switch off air-conditioners, electrical heaters, geysers, pool pumps and non-essential appliances, especially between 17h00 and 20h00.”
“Eskom has mobilised responders across the company and is working with other national structures and stakeholders to keep its plant operating in the context of current industrial action. As a last resort, Eskom will implement its power system contingencies, including controlled load shedding, to avoid a blackout/shutdown of the national power system.
“Eskom will provide regular updates on the status of the power system through all media platforms. In the event that load shedding becomes necessary, Eskom and the municipalities will use published load shedding schedules.”
Sabotage and intimidation
Eskom warned consumers on Thursday that its power network is constrained due to the acts of sabotage and intimidation that were part of the industrial action being taken by members of the trade unions.
“There have been several incidents of road blockades, attacks on staff, and wilful damage of electricity infrastructure. As a result, all road coal deliveries have been stopped for security reasons. The safety of all our employees is of paramount importance to us during this time,” it said.
It said that coal deliveries by rail deliveries and conveyor belts continued to operate, but at limited capacity. The power stations that are worst-affected by the industrial action are Hendrina, Camden, Kendal, and Arnot.
Unions were striking over Eskom’s claims that it could not give workers any pay increases for the year due to its weak financial position. As an essential service, Eskom’s workers aren’t allowed to strike – however, that did not stop employees from taking action.
Reacting to the strike action, the Department of Public Enterprises said that it would push to open negotiation channels between Eskom and unions to discuss the issue, however it stressed that it could not order Eskom to pay any increases, as this had to be driven by the power utility’s board.
However the department stressed that it was in everyone’s best interests to ensure that the lights stay on.