EXCLUSIVE | De Ruyter: Eskom is like a bicycle with the chain off

New Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter has likened Eskom to a bicycle with a chain off, with its cyclist out of the saddle.

"What we need to do, and the metaphor I use with the Eskom team, is that we're a bit like a cyclist running next to the bicycle with the chain off, and when asked why we say, well we're too busy to put the chain back on.

"So we do need to slow down, put the chain back on, so that we can get back into the saddle and start pedalling again," he told Fin24.

Asked whether there were plans to change the ailing power utility's approach to scheduled maintenance, he said there were. 

"We are going to return to a far more structured and disciplined approach, using suppliers of goods and services that are capable of and reliable [for] delivering the quality that we require."

Asked how load shedding would be managed, he urged South Africans to continue saving electricity. 

However, though he did not give specifics, according to De Ruyter, the utility will also be managing demand in such a way that peak demand will have a "less severe" impact.

De Ruyter said a consistent message he had received from South Africans across the board – including industry and mining – was that there was a need for adequate notice ahead of load shedding.

This was particularly necessary for employee safety where workers were sent underground, he emphasised.

Asked what would be "adequate notice", he did not specify.

"We are currently busy with those plans. We intend to take a plan to our board at the end of this month, a fully-fledged plan on both demand management as well as on the maintenance schedule, and our change maintenance philosophy, and after we get board sanction for that, hopefully, we can then take it to the shareholder and we will be able to indicate to the market what our anticipation is of potential disruptions in so much as we want to avoid them where possible.

"But if it is necessary to get us back into the saddle, then that is what we should do," he said.

* Interview by Phillip de Wet, Business Insider. Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe, Fin24.

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