The country experienced load shedding for a third consecutive weekend and again, because certain units which were undergoing maintenance have not come back online. Eskom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matona earlier explained the current state of the power system and what to expect over the next few weeks. He said the past few years has seen poor quality of maintenance at power plants which has resulted in difficulties. “Over the years, in an environment of strained capacity, we have delayed critical maintenance because we wanted to keep the lights on.” Matona said diesel reserves are expected to start running low from Thursday, meaning there will be a high risk of load shedding again this weekend.
There’s a low risk over Christmas, and a medium risk for most of January, but South Africans can expect regular rolling blackouts come February and March as the system will again be severely constrained. This spate of power cuts is the worst the country has experienced since the 2008 crisis which saw rolling blackouts implemented for months. But Matona said Eskom is in a better situation compared to 2008 to manage the challenges. Matona said South Africans must have confidence in the utility’s ability to avoid a national blackout.
At the same time, the latest spate of load shedding is now threatening to affect cellphone signal in the country, putting extra pressure on reserve batteries at cellphone towers. Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman says it’s affecting cellphone companies that are trying to ensure that cellphone signal continues running.