A whole bag of onions to Eskom

I live in Cape Town, where for the last several years we have had very consistent and stable electrical power. However, in the last few months we have had several outages.

The latest outage has resulted in Koeberg Power Station going completely offline. It has been down since Sunday, and is supposed to be back up and running this morning, but it is not. This has resulted in “rolling blackouts” throughout the Cape Town area since Monday, with at least two or three more days of it to follow.

The theory is that each suburb gets two hours blackout per day, hence resulting in minimal disruption. This will continue until one of the generators at Koeberg is up and running again. We are currently having out power shipped in from the North.

The first problem is that Eskom cannot tell you which suburbs will be affected and when, and they cannot stick to their two hour window anyway. So we have to carry on and hope the power stays on when it’s needed. They cannot even give the hospitals advanced warning! Yesterday we had about five hours of power at home in the last 24 hours (thankfully we have just put in a gas stove).

The second problem is that Eskom clearly have none or very little risk management processes in place. Apparently they need to get some fancy expensive part from overseas to fix one of the generators, but it is taking time to arrange that (it could be offline for months). The other generator (which is the one they are supposedly getting back up and running) is due for maintenance in about four months – so we have to make a plan between now and then. Basic risk management says that if it is an important part, ensure that you keep it in stock – no matter how expensive. What is this blackout costing to the economy?

The final problem is that clearly Eskom have no forward planning. Yes, Cape Town has grown very rapidly over the last fifteen years, but anybody could tell you that it will result in larger electricity demands! Surely Eskom should have thought about this increased demand and started planning for it years ago!

So, Eskom for your complete incompetence, you are awarded a whole bag full of onions!

* Eskom is the electrical power utility company in South Africa

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