Shock at Eskom’s new plan

2008-03-06 00:00

Cape Town — Opposition parties yesterday slammed Eskom’s announcement of a six-month country-wide moratorium on all new construction projects, saying the decision will further dampen South Africa’s economic growth.

The DA called on the government to institute an inquiry into the conduct of Eskom’s management, while the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) demanded that Eskom come clean on how the building restrictions will affect the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

DA spokesman on Minerals and Energy, Hendrik Schmidt, said yesterday that questions must be asked about the extent of Eskom’s consultations with relevant stake-holders.

“Has Eskom taken another unilateral decision similar to the power stoppages levelled at the mining sector?” Schmidt said yesterday.

He said the announcement coincides with several damning allegations against the electricity utility, including allegations of negligent management of coal stockpiles and selling electricity below cost to large consumers, while taxing the public and concealing the resultant losses to safeguard directors’ bonuses.

The Eskom decision means that all new construction projects that are bigger than a residential home will be blocked for four to six months. This includes complexes, petrol stations, factories and construction projects where electricity provision needs to be obtained from Eskom in advance. Eskom said yesterday that all major new building projects will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

FF+ Minerals and Energy spokesman Willie Spies said Eskom will owe an explanation to all South Africans, and Fifa and the soccer community, if the Soccer World Cup is hosted elsewhere in 2010.

“It is ironic that the government claimed that the electricity crisis was caused by economic growth, while it is currently preventing further economic growth,” he said.

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