President Ramaphosa conducts an oversight visit at the Tutuka Power Station in Mpumalanga.
President Ramaphosa conducts an oversight visit at the Tutuka Power Station in Mpumalanga. Photo: SA News

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the South African government and Eskom’s main focus is to put megawatts on the grid to mitigate the rolling black outs that the country is currently experiencing.

The President said that everyone has to work together to address the problem of load shedding.

He said Eskom is doing as much as they possibly can while dealing with big machines and equipment that they have to properly streamline to generate the energy that the country needs.

President Ramaphosa was speaking at Tutuka Power Station in Mpumalanga on Saturday, where he conducted an oversight visit accompanied by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The President, who was taken on a guided tour of the Tutuka Power Station led by Station General Manager Sello Mametja, was briefed on a number of challenges affecting performance at the plant and the actions being taken to address them.

“What is important is to put megawatts on the grid, that is our main focus and a whole lot of other things we will attend to as we move on.

“Right now my focus, the minister’s focus, the premier and everybody else is to put megawatts on the grid so that they can get all the six units operating at Tutuka Power Station,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa said that there is currently two units operating, another one is coming on stream and Eskom is going to work very hard to get the other three on stream.

“When this power station functions well it generates easily 3500 megawatts and that is what we want to see Tutuka doing, it is one of the power stations that have always worked well.

“With a whole lot of problems that we have had including state capture and corruption, Tutuka has been brought down. Now we are going to lift it again and make sure that Eskom does rise.

“My presence here today was also to encourage them that they should go on and I am glad that they have a very good plan to bring the units in the station back on stream,” the President said.

The President emphasized that Eskom needs to be repositioned so that they generate enough energy for the country, which is government’s main focus.

Meanwhile, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said that load shedding could be paused by the end of next week. De Ruyter said that some of Eskom’s power stations could be back to generation next week.

Fraud and Corruption main challenge at power stations

The President highlighted corruption, fraud and procuring equipment on time as the main challenges faced at Eskom’s Tutuka power station.

He said that the challenges at the station are enormous as they range from just getting the power station to operate at optimal levels and the various impediments that they go through.

He said that part of the challenges has to do with government’s own systems in particular procurement of spares that the station needs within a specified period so that the units can continue operating.

“The other challenges is corruption and fraud that is very pervasive in the power station with a number of people who are involved in fraudulent activities and theft to a point where the theft and fraud makes it very challenging for the power station to be able to operate optimally.

“There are shortages of spares when they are stolen and they are not able to be replaced on time as to be able to get the power station to function properly, that is a problem that is being attended to now,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said that the corruption is being dealt with, other people are being arrested as a result of actions that are being taken by management.

“We are grateful for that. It is quite challenging to a point where some of the management have to get protection because they are threatened as they are dealing with corrupt activities.

“I am very impressed with the quality of managers we have here because they are not only dealing with those challenges but they are displaying a great deal of commitment to get the power station to be working,” the President said.

The President expressed that he was pleased that he got the opportunity to be on the ground and see the challenges first hand.

He said that this would enable him to come with a number of proposals that can effectively deal with the challenges that the country faces when it comes to load shedding.

Maintenance at Eskom

On the issue of maintenance at Eskom, the President said that the issues are ongoing as Eskom runs big machines and boilers, among others, which have to be maintained at an ongoing basis.

“I am glad that management at Eskom has a program to ensure that there is maintenance that will bring back all of megawatts back into the grid,” he said.

The President emphasized that the focus in on maintenance however the other focus is on increasing the power generation of getting more power onto the grid.

“Once we have more power onto the grid and getting rid of shortfalls and close the gap, we should be able to see the end of load shedding. Even if some breakage or planned maintenance happen and we have the additional megawatts, we should be okay.

“I think the focus has to be on that, we are paying closer attention to maintenance and increasing the megawatts that will get onto the grid. I am glad and pleased with the plans Eskom has in place, we should be able to have a great deal of relief from load shedding in a short space of time,” President Ramaphosa said.

Addressing threats of a planned national shutdown, the President acknowledged that people have a right to be angry however, government is addressing the problem.

“People are unhappy and angry and they have a right to be because the load shedding that we have has really made a negative dent on people’s confidence as well as the economy.

“As we address the problems there will be less need for reactions like that. I am hopeful that as we address the problems and tell them what our plans and proposals are people will understand that we are serious in dealing with the issues of load shedding and power generation for our economy,” the President said. –