The media briefing held by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom board Chairperson Jabu Mabuza ended in an announcement of Stage 5 and 6 load shedding.
Eskom, together with the government, have started planning for Stage 5 and 6 of load shedding. This is according to officials who say these strategies will be put in place to ensure that a national blackout does not occur.
The country has been experiencing Stage 4 load shedding, where 4 000 megawatts have been shed off the grid daily since Friday, 15 March 2019. Now, the power utility has announced that the stages of load shedding may go up to 5 and 6, meaning 5 000 and 6000 megawatts will be shed off the grid respectively.
While Eskom had previously said that the power outages were not a cause for concern, the briefing held by Gordhan and Mabuza on Tuesday, 19 March 2019, revealed otherwise. The briefing revealed that power preservation is important now, more than ever, as South Africa bought all available diesel overseas for the emergency power to run.
Mabuza stated that although Eskom was allocated funds to maintain the power stations, the funds were badly mismanaged.
“This was not money that was sitting in a vault somewhere at Eskom. It’s clear when looking at the financials over the past five years the maintenance was in a reduction sense.”
He also said that most Eskom coal stations normally only function sufficiently for 30 years before problems start kicking in. South Africa’s coal stations have been supplying power for 50 years and have been poorly maintained. However, he ensured that a complete blackout would not occur anytime soon.
“We are very far from a point of total black-out. The system operators’ main task is to defend and protect the grid,” he said.