South Africans can expect load shedding until at least the end of August 2021, as it continues to battle ageing infrastructure, and allegations of corruption.
This is according to the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on Public Enterprises, Khaya Magaxa, who was speaking on Power Week on Sunday.
Magaxa said that in a meeting with the Public Enterprises Department, “we were informed that we will be having load shedding until end of August.”
He said one problem cited was a shortage of advanced technicians at Kusile – the coal-fired power plant under construction by Eskom.
The chairperson said that the technicians operate globally, with Eskom struggling to get them into the country due to the travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Magaxa said that additional challenges include the state power utility’s old ‘equipment’.
“There is a continuation of new challenges that emerge every time,” he said.
The latest load shedding bout over the weekend was blamed on damp coal, following heavy rains around the country.
As Bloomberg explains, for more than half a century, Eskom has built the bulk of its plants near coal mines and conveyed the bulk of its fuel on conveyor belts.
That model has rendered the generation system vulnerable to heavy rainfall: several consecutive days of downpours can simultaneously soak through coal stockpiles and interrupt operations to extract new supply, Bloomberg said.
The problem has surfaced several times over the past few years and manifested again on Friday, it said.
Eskom’s generation system has also been plagued by other problems – from breakdowns at its poorly maintained plants to conveyor-belt fires. These have caused blackouts and slashed economic output.
Eskom has previously said that the risk of power cuts will be significantly reduced by September.