The South African power utility, Eskom, has advised members of the public that they need to be prepared for rolling black-outs during this weekend, particularly on Saturday as they implement what they termed stage two load shedding. This was in a statement released by the power giant late on Friday.
The statement issued by the parastatal said the reason for the the load shedding was that the system was highly vulnerable due to a number of reasons, some of which were not in the control of the parastatal. The statement revealed that generation capacity had been lost or had been compromised because a number of units were out of service, meaning that they were not producing electricity. Of these units that were not producing electricity, the statement revealed, there were some that had been planned in order to carry out service to these units while the rest were out due to unplanned outages. This means that the latter were out of service for reasons unknown to the technicians at the parastatals and the outages would give the power utility time to find out the reason for the outages and fix them.
Eskom, in its announcement, advised members of the public that the rolling blackouts were expected to start in the morning and last as late as 10 pm on Saturday. In addition, Eskom also announced that it would review the electricity supply situation on Saturday evening to decide on whether there would be need for electricity blackouts on Sunday.
South Africa, which has boasted a very steady supply of electricity for many years, both in pre and post democracy in 1994, started to have serious problems with their electricity supply as late as last year when silos at one of its power stations, in Medupi collapsed. This exposed the power utility in its failure to do thorough maintenance to its units and equipment. Since then there have been several crippling black outs and this has not augured well for the economy which has been struggling on its own. Further, the rand has taken quite a beating and has recently fallen to its lowest point in six years against the greenback.
The problems at Eskom have, in a number of instances, caused problems even in the political spheres of the country as, in a number of instances, the President has been caught up in mud slinging contests of a racial nature when he said the probleme of electricity supply were a bad legacy from the apartheid era and, at one point, even went to the extent of saying the problems that South Africa is facing, started when Jan van Riebeeck landed in South Africa. Jan van Riebeeck is the direct ancestor of the Afrikaans people who were in charge of the country until the advent of democracy in 1994. He has reiterated his call that the country’s electricity problems are a legacy of the apartheid era at a breakfast meeting in Cape Town.