Eskom warns load shedding to last for next ten days

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Eskom says load shedding is likely to take place on Monday from 17:00 to 21:00, with intermittent blackouts set to last for the next 10 days, as it works to stabilise its supply chain interrupted by workers' protests.

"There is a low probability of rotational load shedding during the day as a result of power station units being returned to the system, but the probability of rotational load shedding increases for the evening peak period from 5pm to 9pm due to the normal expected increase in demand," Eskom said in a statement.

"Should rotational load shedding be implemented today, it would be for a period of up to four hours."

Last week, Eskom implemented the first round of countrywide load shedding since 2015, following protests by workers over the 0% wage hike adopted by the cash-strapped power utility.

The pickets at key power stations around South Africa interrupted services and the delivery of coal, leading to blackouts in parts of the country from Thursday evening.

Eskom said it was in the process of restarting services with bottlenecks in coal transportation, after staff members were intimidated while attempting to go to work during protests.

"In addition, the already low coal stockpiles at some stations were exacerbated by road closures as coal delivery had to be suspended," Eskom said.

"The estimated ten-day prognosis for full restoration is due to the effects of the industrial action, which interrupted continuous processes at the power plants,” the power utility added.

Talks on Tuesday

Eskom employees are demanding a 15% wage hike, but management has said it can't afford any increases, and offered no salary hikes for this year.

Talks between the unions, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Solidarity, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Eskom are set to resume on Tuesday, following an intervention by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The power utility had on Thursday afternoon obtained a court interdict against sporadic pickets, and acts of violence and threats on staff.

Eskom said there were significant increases in plant outages and backlogs in routine maintenance due to the lack of resources to optimally operate plants.

It said smaller stations could only return units more or less every 24 hours, and some stations that are operating at high output have to manage their ash levels to achieve optimal productions. 

"These stations are expected to only return to normality by Thursday." 

The state-owned power utility supplies more than 95% of the country's electricity.

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