Maintenance is a religion and Eskom’s a sinner – Matona

2015-01-15 16:23

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Eskom is like a car that has been kept running without a service until it breaks down, says the power utility’s CEO Tshediso Matona.

Matona today told journalists in Joburg that Eskom has made the “hard and rational” decision to impose load shedding whenever it has to in order to fix and maintain its cantankerous fleet of power stations.

Not having done this earlier is what has landed South Africa in the trouble of snowballing power plant failures in the first place, Matona said at Eskom’s quarterly “state of the system” briefing.

Eskom is basically 5?000MW short if it wants to keep the lights on and keep up a schedule of maintenance.

It has been using its diesel generators to make up 2?000MW of that.

Much of the other 3?000MW, almost a tenth of South Africa’s entire power demand, will have to be won through load shedding.

The use of diesel will likely also have to be scaled back.

The alternative is a “catastrophe” in the form of a total national blackout if too many stations fail.

Today’s message was “pretty much the same” as before, Matona admitted.

“It all comes down to maintenance.”

Maintenance was the company’s “religion” and the problem was that, since 2008, Eskom “has not stayed faithful”, he said.

In that year, South Africa experienced a power crisis that marked the beginning of a policy of keeping the lights on “at all costs”. This has mostly meant deferring maintenance and burning diesel to augment the power supply.

Now Matona is promising a zealous adherence to all maintenance plans, come hell or high water.

If that means load shedding in order to shut a plant down for repairs, then so be it.

Fixing the parlous state of the power fleet “will take about as long as it took to create the problem – years and years”, he said.

Eskom also released its projection of the power situation for the Summer period today.

It is expecting a “high probability of load shedding” on every single week day starting next week up to the end of April.

“It is not whether load shedding will be part of our life, it is how we will deal with it, said Matona.

Unlike his predecessor Brian Dames, Matona is not a lifelong Eskom hand and joined the company from the department of public enterprises, Eskom’s sole shareholder.

But, responding to questions, Matona – who joined the utility less than four months ago – refused to lay blame.

“This is not a judgement” on the previous management, he said.

When he had been at the department it had been impossible for him to appreciate the fundamental problem at Eskom the way he now does, said Matona.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.