Eskom has summarily suspended the managers of the Tutuka and Kendal power stations, saying the country’s load-shedding crisis was being “exacerbated by serious issues of apathetic behaviour” by some top staff.
SA was set to endure yet another day of rolling blackouts with stage 3 load-shedding scheduled from 8am until 10pm on Friday.
“While it is true the aging fleet is plagued by legacy issues of neglect and omitted maintenance and is therefore susceptible to unpredictable breakdowns, it is also true the situation is exacerbated by serious issues of apathetic behaviour by some management staff,” the power utility said on Friday.
“It is for this reason the board has come out strongly in support of group chief executive Andre de Ruyter in his action yesterday morning of summarily suspending the Tutuka and Kendal power station managers pending disciplinary inquiries. Further interventions are ongoing at the Kriel and Duvha power stations.”
There was 5,000MW of capacity on planned maintenance and 10,950MW (12 units over the past seven days) on unplanned breakdowns.
Level of failures ‘unacceptably high’
“This has culminated in an approximately 3,000MW energy demand deficit, aggravated by very high demand during the cold front. The board is pleased some units have since returned to service, but is aware the level of failures is unacceptably high.”
Eskom said it had engaged with other power station managers to “ensure the previous culture of weak consequence management will no longer be the norm and will no longer be tolerated”.
Three senior generation managers have been sent to Duvha, Kriel, Tutuka and Kendal power stations to “provide leadership and oversight in person”.
The board and management have met twice in the past two days, and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan will interrogate the causes of load-shedding and steps being taken to repair breakdowns.
“In these meetings it has been agreed an urgent culture change and high-level competence enhancement across all 44,000 staff, which De Ruyter began on his arrival, should be accelerated, promoted and strongly supported,” Eskom said.