Medupi delays ‘disturb’ minister

2013-07-10 15:33

Government is extremely disturbed at the delays at the Medupi power plant, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has said.

“I’m accordingly extremely disturbed by these further delays being experienced at Medupi. Eskom remains Medupi’s owner, and is responsible for the management and the execution thereof,” he said at the presentation of Eskom’s financial results in Joburg today.

Gigaba said the delays raised questions about Eskom’s ability to ensure electricity supply, manage a mega project, and the impact of the delays on the country’s economy.

On Monday, Eskom announced that the Medupi power plant would not be able to deliver its first power to the national grid in December 2013 as scheduled. The first unit of Medupi was scheduled to deliver 800MW by the end of December.

However, Eskom said this would be postponed by about six months.

Gigaba said he fully supported penalties imposed by Eskom on contractors, including recalling performance bonds.

“Clearly a new effort is required to address efficiency during the project management and to ensure that this project begins to deliver,” he said.

The department had commissioned independent consultants to look into the problems, he said. They would help Eskom assess project and engineering capabilities and advise on any structural improvements that might be required.

They would also ascertain the full extent of the risk, caused by the delays, on the build programme and look into what caused them.

Gigaba said the scope of the study was broader than the Medupi project, as its mandate would focus on the entire build programme.

The department’s director-general and senior Eskom executives had been sent to France to meet Alstom, one of the contractors. They would express government’s displeasure at the delays and get first hand information on the causes of the delays and remedial steps to be taken.

Meanwhile, Eskom has assured South Africans they will not experience power cuts, similar to those in 2008, because of problems at the Medupi power plant, SABC news reported today.

“For the last... five years, we have kept the lights on. South Africa has seen no load-shedding,” Eskom CEO Brian Dames said in Joburg.

“We are busy building, on our side, the new projects and we are busy running our current fleet and maintaining that. We are confident that we will keep the lights on.”

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