Medupi subcontractor blamed for delay

2013-07-26 16:23

A subcontractor connected to Hitachi Power Africa is believed to be behind the delay in completing the first phase of the Medupi Power Station, the DA has said.

It said this emerged from a two-day oversight visit to the Limpopo project by Parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee.

“MPs on the visit were informed that a Hitachi Power Africa subcontractor was responsible for the faulty welding on the boilers,” DA MP Natasha Michael said today.

Michael said officials from Hitachi had told MPs the subcontractor had misled both Eskom and Hitachi into believing that quality control tests on the boilers had been conducted.

“This was not done. As a result, all the welds on the boiler in unit six had to be rechecked and many replaced,” she said.

The name of the subcontractor was not revealed during the visit.

“South Africans deserve to know which entity is responsible for faulty service delivery and misleading both Eskom and the country as a whole,” Michael said.

The DA, however, welcomed the fact that criminal charges were laid against the company.

The party would ask Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba to confirm the name of the subcontractor in a parliamentary question.

Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ruling ANC, has a 25% stake in Hitachi, which has been awarded the boiler tender for Medupi.

Michael said other reasons cited for the delays were the failure of French company Alstom to ensure software for the plant’s operating system was working, and labour unrest.

“Alstom is responsible for the control and instrumentation system at the plant. Many of the other contractors have now completed their work and await this system to become operational.”

On the continuing wildcat strikes, Michael said: “The committee met organised labour and was informed that despite various mechanisms and agreements put in place, the implementation and communication between Eskom, contractors, and organised labour remain problematic.”

Michael would ask that Gigaba be summoned to appear before Parliament’s public enterprises committee to receive a report from MPs, and address them on their concerns.

Earlier this month, Eskom said in a statement the new power station would probably begin contributing to the national grid only in the second half of next year. The previous target was December.

The Medupi power station is a new dry-cooled, coal-fired power station being built by Eskom near Lephalale in Limpopo.

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