Eskom in R500 million make-over splurge: report

State power utility, Eskom is forking out R500 million to give its head office a make-over, while it also seeks a R50 billion bailout from the South African taxpayer, the Sunday Times reports.

The renovations include a VIP entrance, new interior decor, landscaped gardens, timber deck walkways and motorised venetian window blinds, the Sunday paper said.

Eskom recently came under renewed criticism last month after it imposed emergency load-shedding.

Earlier this week, BusinessDay reported that Eskom has asked government for an “equity injection of at least R50 billion” in order to bail the company out of an “acute” cash-flow spiral.

The company, however, quickly moved to reassure investors. “Eskom would like to reassure the nation at large that its cash flow situation is very stable,” it said in a statement.

Moreover, newly appointed acting CEO, Collin Matjila, is not without controversy of his own during his time as former CEO of Cosatu’s investment arm, Kopano ke Matla.

The Sunday Times pointed to tender documents showing proposed upgrades to Megawatt Park, Eskom’s head office in Johannesburg.

These include:

  • R3 million for a VIP entrance and offices, and R608 000 for curtaining;
  • Landscaping at R1.4 million, including LED strip lights and a “timberclad seating wall” made from Rhodesian teak;
  • Timber deck walkways, carpet tiles in “Eskom blue” and porcelain floor and wall tiles;
  • Revamped cafés;
  • Emergency generator installation at a cost of R8.5 million and uninterrupted power supply systems for R6.7million;
  • Air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems (R81 million) and automatic motorised venetian window blinds; and
  • A new parking area.

The tender documents articulate a need for space, for expansion, energy efficiency, and health and safety of staff, as justification for the revamp.

Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger told Sunday Times that the upgrade was budgeted for and would cost “in the order of R500 million”.

“This is not a status upgrade,” he said. “The idea is not to . . . make it prestigious. These are measures which need to be taken to ensure the occupational health of employees.”

“There are definite hygiene factors that affect the building. Second, our data centre is inadequate. We need to protect information and have the correct back-up power supplies you would find in a modern data centre.”

“The final consideration is energy efficiency. The building, because it’s old, is not very energy efficient. We’re asking our customers to employ energy-efficient measures and we need to set an example,” he said.

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Eskom in R500 million make-over splurge: report