South African government pledges coordinated efforts to defuse power crisis

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-15 11:30:53|Editor: Li Xia
Video PlayerClose

CAPE TOWN, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Thursday pledged to coordinate efforts to defuse the worsening power crisis since February in the country.

The efforts to seek financial, operational and structural sustainability to the state-owned electricity utility Eskom "are proceeding in earnest," the cabinet said after a fortnightly meeting in Cape Town.

Eskom supplies about 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa. The heavily-indebted power firm on Wednesday just warned of load shedding operations in the days to come.

Regarding the new spate of power outages, one of the topics discussed at the cabinet meeting, government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said, "The performance of the power plants remain volatile even though load shedding has not been implemented since February 15, 2019."

There were a number of major incidents in the distribution system that have contributed to power outages, she added.

Hours after the spokeswoman's statement, Eskom renewed load shedding after a breakdown at its Kusile power plant project, plunging large area of the country into darkness. The utility has said the load shedding conducted rotationally is a measure of last resort to protect its power system from total collapse.

According to Williams, the cabinet has received a report from Deputy President David Mabuza on the work of a joint special cabinet committee on Eskom established in response to the existing power crisis.

A newly-appointed government working team on Eskom's technical review and the Eskom board have started their work this week for producing a preliminary report within four weeks on ways to address the power crisis, she said.

She added the cabinet meeting also addressed such specifics as the supply chain of coal and the performance of Eskom's two major power stations that had broken down recently.

South Africa has incurred an estimated economic loss of some 300 billion rand (some 21 billion U.S. dollars) due to power outages since 2008.

Eskom has been criticized for poor management and corruption has been blamed for a decade-old power shortage in South Africa. It is also accused of using load shedding to blackmail the government into helping it repay its debts estimated at 420 billion rand (some 29 billion dollars).