Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordon Tuesday evening, said he hoped Eskom would be able to avoid implementing Stage 6 load shedding for a second day on Wednesday, after the power utility and unions reached an agreement salary earlier in the day.
Eskom announced on Tuesday afternoon that it would implement phase 6 load shedding from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, after illegal industrial action worsened its ability to generate electricity.
Eskom, who would reveal details of the deal later, only had to implement stage 6 load shedding once – in December 2019.
Gordhan said striking employees would be asked to return to work Wednesday morning.
He hoped that Eskom would then be able to undertake the necessary cleaning and restarting of power plant units, as well as resume maintenance activities which had had to be suspended as a result of the industrial action.
The minister, in an appeal to unions and others who could inspire activity at Eskom power plants in recent days, said “now is not the time to interfere in the supply in electricity”.
He urged Eskom employees to work in the national interest and in the interests of the country and its 60 million citizens.
He pointed out that the illegal industrial action by some Eskom employees since June 22 had caused enormous damage to South Africa’s reputation and economic growth.
Tuesday morning, Eskom had warned that it could have to implement the load shedding of phase 6, following a deterioration of its production capacity on Monday night.
COO John Oberholzer noted at a press conference on Tuesday morning that there was a significant risk that the utility would have to implement Stage 6 load shedding.
He added that ten generators had been lost on Monday night. Two of these units had been returned to service on Tuesday morning.
Eskom had planned to return four more units to service before the evening peak, but was only able to return to service one more unit on Tuesday afternoon.
Oberholzer said four more units could not be returned to service on Tuesday because they require prolonged repairs.
Units that had previously failed could also not be returned to service, due to the lack of necessary operators in those units.
CEO André de Ruyter further pointed out that the utility was already using around two million liters of diesel a day to run its Ankerlig and Gourikwa open-cycle gas turbines, with Eskom having used 85 million liters of diesel so far in June.
Oberholzer noted that diesel volumes were running out “at an alarming rate”, particularly at Ankerlig.
With diesel supplies dwindling, a ship delivering additional fuel for Ankerlig is only expected to reach South Africa this weekend.
Eskom’s already limited electricity supply is exacerbated by industrial action at various power stations, with a number of Eskom’s power stations currently being run by executives.
Oberholzer and De Ruyter praised the employees who continued to work long hours to keep the power plants operational under the circumstances.
They also urged the striking employees to consider the impact of the illegal and illegal strike on the people of the country, as well as the economy, and return to work.
They also condemned acts of intimidation, arson and public violence committed by some of the striking employees.
Gordhan on Tuesday night also condemned the acts of violence, saying it was unacceptable that some non-striking employees had seen their homes and cars pelted with gasoline and their vehicles’ tires slashed, among other forms of intimidation.
He noted that the intimidation had resulted in more than 90% of staff not at work at the majority of Eskom’s power stations on Monday and Tuesday.