Design flaws in Kusile, Medupi will take 5 years to fix, says Mabuza

Vice President David Mabuza.

Photo: Tebogo Letsie / City Press

  • Vice President David Mabuza said the design flaws at the Kusile and Medupi power plants should take until 2027 to be fully rectified.
  • Mabuza said efforts to fix the design flaws have been slowed by events, including the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • He said Eskom was renegotiating contracts that saw the electric utility bear the cost of design defects rather than contractors.

Vice President David Mabuza said that while Eskom has made progress in identifying design flaws in its Medupi and Kusile coal-fired plants, the delicate process of rectifying these flaws will only be completed by the end of 2027.

Mabuza orally answered questions from members of parliament during a virtual plenary of the National Council of Provinces on Thursday afternoon. The plenary takes place amidst the continuous loosening of the load and the chilling tensions between Eskom’s leadership and the state.

These tensions came to a head last month when Eskom’s board member Busisiwe Mavuso refused to allow Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to blame Eskom’s management for its problems and quit. a meeting with the committee.

The Medupi and Kusile plants suffered from construction delays and cost increases. In 2019 Parliament was told that maintenance costs to address Medupi’s defects were estimated at Rand 7 billion for Medupi and Rand 285 million for Kusile.

Responding to a question from ANC MP Tebogo Modise about station design flaws, Mabuza admitted that Kusile and Medupi had not achieved the desired levels of performance and reliability due to plant design and maintenance inefficiencies.

“To establish progress in identifying these challenges, the political task team on Eskom undertook a visit to Kusile. We stressed to Eskom that defects must be corrected quickly to avoid further delays and cost escalations,” Mabuza said.

Mabuza said that after the political activities team on Eskom recently visited the power plants, Eskom’s management said changes were made to the Kusile station, with the design flaws being corrected.

He said the boiler plant defect fix should be completed by October 2023. Kusile grinding plant fix will be completed after December 2027, “depending on the availability of units in the event of an outage,” Mabuza said. .

“We remain concerned that Eskom may have inadequately addressed Scopa’s recommendation following the 2019 surveillance visit, particularly the shift in dates on the Medupi and Kusile projects. The inability to address this issue was impacted by the adaptation strategy of the Covid-19 risk, “Mabuza said.

READ | Eskom’s sad warning: SA must more than double its generation capacity in just 13 years

EFF MP Mmabato Mokause asked Mabuza what his thoughts were on Mavuso’s suggestion that Eskom’s management was not entirely responsible for the Eskom crisis. Mabuza said placing blame while the entity struggled was unproductive.

“All we are trying to do is help Eskom meet its obligations. We ask that the board of directors do its job. We all work together. There is no point in pointing fingers and ignoring the problem. We would be disappointed by the nation and our people. if we keep pointing fingers, “he said.

Freedom Front Plus MP Michiel de Bruyn asked why contractors and Eskom were sharing the costs of addressing design defects and why the companies responsible for these defects are not held accountable.

“We asked this question ourselves at Eskom and the answer we got was that all the different contracts have different provisions and specifications. There are contracts where it is stipulated that contractors are not responsible for any defects that may occur,” he said. Mabuza answered.

Mabuza said Eskom tried to renegotiate the contract and that, in many cases, the cost sharing of defects was the result of this process.

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