Declare state of disaster on Eskom, cautions DA

The DA has called on government to declare a state of disaster on Eskom, saying essential measures need to be taken to avert “energy crisis”.

Briefing the media on Thursday, the official opposition said the party has written to the director-general in the Presidency, Phindile Baleni, who is also the secretary to cabinet, requesting that its call for a state of national disaster on Eskom and the energy sector be on the agenda for the next cabinet meeting.

DA spokesperson on energy Kevin Mileham said: “The underlying premise for that call is in view of the dire state of the country’s electricity generation capacity. South Africa should be making it easier for independent power producers to bring new generation capacity online on a scale and in the shortest amount of time.”

DA MP Solly Malatsi, who also attended the briefing, said unless a disaster is declared on the matter, South Africans should expect more loadshedding.

“Unless a concerted effort is taken to remove obstacles standing in the way of independent power generation, South Africa could face another decade of loadshedding disruptions,” said Malatsi.

The party argued that the rolling blackouts, which have cost the country billions of rands, continue to hurt the country’s economy, and have contributed to the unemployment crisis. South Africa has suffered over 15 years of power cuts, the party said, stressing that South Africans continue to bear the brunt.

Added Ghaleb Cachalia, the DA’s spokesperson on public enterprises: “We are calling for an electricity emergency response plan that must be activated to lay out short-, medium-, and long-term plans. Now this plan, which is geared to mitigate the state of disaster to ensure that it doesn’t hit us in the face, must involve all stakeholders.”

Meanwhile, Eskom warned this week that it would be an extremely cold winter in the dark this year as the risk of loadshedding continued to rise.

The national grid remains constrained, said Eskom during a system update presentation on Wednesday, noting that there was an elevated risk of loadshedding during winter, especially in the mornings and evenings.

The power utility implemented loadshedding for four days in a row this week, announcing the return of stage two from 5pm to 10pm on Thursday.

It said a generation unit at Lethabo power station was taken offline for repairs on Wednesday, and cautioned that the onset of winter and increased demand would lead to capacity constraints throughout this season.

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