‘SA nukes project 10 years late’

2014-11-27 00:00

THE nuclear project is not an unnecessary expense that will drain the country’s finances for years to come, leaders of the project said yesterday.

In fact, the project is about 10 years late, argued Zizamele Mbambo, the deputy director-general for nuclear energy in the ­Department of Energy, and Phumzile Tshelane, CEO of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).

The two spoke openly to The Witness yesterday at the end of a 10-day marathon session where South African nuclear ­experts met with ­representatives from countries that could be suppliers in the ­nuclear programme.

China, France, South Korea and the U.S. had been hosted by the Department of­

Energy at the Champagne Sport Resort since November 15.

This is the same venue where the ­Russian delegation was ­hosted a few weeks ago.

Security at the venue was strict. Members of the South ­African nuclear team were not allowed to carry their cellular phones into the auditorium where the presentations were being made. They left them in brown envelopes marked with their names just outside the ­venue.

Mbambo said the vendor ­parade had been excellent. “We know what South Africa wants and this was a chance to find out what was out there … Now we know what is available we will go back to our principals with the information,” Mbambo said.

He said this was a ­pre-procurement process and they would use the information presented to draw up a plan that will be a road map to the procurement process.

Mbambo dismissed ­allegations that the project could cost R1 trillion, saying the government was still busy with the cost analysis.

He also denied allegations that the Russian team were in the lead to partner in the project. He said this incorrect perception had been created after it emerged that the government had signed a co-operation agreement with the Russian government.

Tshelane said: “We had signed two other agreements before that and we signed two others after that, but a spotlight was shone on this one.”

He said South Africans should not view the project negatively. “This will create thousands of jobs … This project will help the country develop and create ­economic growth and make sure that the lights are kept on. We need this project. In fact we are about 10 years late.

“There should be a clear indication of what we are doing. We want to create an industry that is self-sustaining … We are not just building power stations.” he said.

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