Site closures unlikely to affect deadlines

Posted On Tuesday, 24 May 2011 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Eskom said it is unlikely that the closure of the Medupi and Kusile construction sites for two weeks will have any impact on the delivery of the power stations on time.

EskomIt is unlikely that the closure of the Medupi and Kusile construction sites for two weeks will have any impact on the delivery of the power stations on time, South African power utility Eskom said on Monday.

Both construction sites were closed earlier this month after labour protests by contract staff led to the damage of vehicles and property.

Construction was restarted at Medupi on Monday, with 7,000 workers reporting for duty, while work at Kusile has only partially resumed.

Eskom said there were still some labour issues outstanding at Kusile, at Kendal near Witbank, but it hoped the site would be back in full swing soon.

"We are working to make up for lost time," said Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe, who said Eskom had to make absolutely sure that the sites were safe before work could resume.

Workers at Medupi, at Lephalale in Limpopo, protested against the hiring of foreign welders, while the protest at Kusile was started in sympathy with workers at one of the construction companies that was nearing the end of its contract. Workers at Kusile went on strike the week before the site's closure over the enforcement of the "no work, no pay" rule.

Workers at both the Medupi and Kusile sites are not directly employed by Eskom.

At Kusile, the construction contract has been awarded to the Kusile Civil Works joint venture, which is made up of Group Five, WBHO and Stefanutti Stocks.

Murray & Roberts and Hitachi are the contractors at Medupi.

Of the two weeks that the sites have been closed, last week was not expected to be a very productive week, with the construction companies having already planned to allow workers time to travel home to vote in the municipal elections.

It is vital that Eskom makes up for the lost time, although the sites have effectively only been down for a week.

Medupi's first unit is scheduled to come on line at the end of 2012, while Kusile's first unit is due to be up and running at the end of 2014.

The two power stations - the first Eskom has built in more than 20 years - will bring to 15 the number of coal-fired power stations in SA.

Medupi is being constructed at an estimated cost of 125 billion rand, while Kusile is seen as costing as much as 142 billion rand.

But construction of the two power stations is crucial if SA is to ensure that there is enough electricity to meet growing demand.

In 2007 and early 2008, the country's electricity grid almost collapsed, resulting in widespread blackouts.

Eskom has been able to control the situation since 2008, avoiding further blackouts, but electricity supply is expected to remain tight till at least 2013.

The crisis, which cost the country billions in lost production, spurred the huge investments in the build programme that will ultimately see the power utility double its capacity to 80,000MW by 2026.

In the meantime, SA's demand for power is expected to double by 2030 from present levels of about 37,000MW.


Last modified on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:17

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