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Dodgy dealings between former Eskom employees and utility to blame for blackouts

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South African business confederation expresses support in helping to revive Eskom

A company owned by two former Eskom employees has been catapulted to the top of the list of entities to blame for the consistent power outages.

Several former Eskom employees are facing allegations of extracting about R275 million from the power utility through boiler monitoring and maintenance technology. The boiler monitoring software and technology, which now belongs to Carab Technologies, is said to have been developed by Eskom, making it the power utility’s intellectual property.

City Press reported that through a confidential presentation by Eskom, it learned that the software was developed by former Eskom employees Dirk van Aarde and Fanie Scheepers in early 2008. The presentation states that “Data collection, development of the system, testing of the system was done under Eskom employment.”

The presentation further states that, although the software was developed by van Aarde and Scheepers, it was done so under Eskom supervision, therefore making it Eskom’s intellectual property. The presentation also details how it came to be that the software is now owned by Carab Technologies.

“Dirk van Aarde then left Eskom to work for Actom where he formed a company called Tekniva. Fanie Scheepers formed a company called Carab while he was still employed by Eskom.

“Fanie resigned. Dirk then bought Carab and a new company was formed called Carab Tekniva, specialising in boiler healthcare. The Carab system was then piloted at Kendal Power Station and a recommendation was made that it should be used by all power stations,” the presentation read.

The power utility had been using services from Carab Technologies until April 2018 after Treasury refused to extend the tender. Although Treasury made this refusal in September 2017, Eskom still continued making use of Carab Technologies on several three-month extensions while it awaited a permanent approval from Treasury. Had the approval been made, Carab Technologies would have its tender extended by a further R67 million, from the initial R275 million to R342 million for another two years.

When Treasury refused the extension, it said that it was because there was no evidence that the service offered by Carab Technologies could not be provided by others.

In light of this, a senior government executive who is knowledgeable on procurement said the Carab Technologies contract was flawed.

“Government procurement doesn’t work like that. The appointment of RWE itself should have been done through a tender and it was not. RWE should have called for a Request For Information from the market, compiled a report about potential boiler maintenance companies and handed over a report to Eskom. Their recommendation of Carab in front of Carab’s representatives was highly irregular.”

This comes in light of the recent announcement that the New Development Bank, powered by BRICS, would be loaning Eskom approximately R11.2 billion to aid with the power supply problem.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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