Load shedding has been an unwelcome visitor to South African homes this year as Eskom continues to fail in its responsibility to keep South Africa’s lights on.
A recent discussion on SABC about load shedding highlighted the extent of the problems being faced at the power supplier. These include the poor quality of coal used.
The discussion lays bare the fundamental problems plaguing Eskom, despite the positive spin that politicians have tried to put on the changes at Eskom.
Poor quality coal
One of the reasons quoted for the recent load shedding was poor quality coal that caused damage to the burners. In photos published by SABC News, it seems rocks are being sold to Eskom as coal.
“That is not coal. That is a lump of crushed rock which cannot be milled and cannot combust under any circumstances,” said LontohCoal CEO Tshepo Kgadima.
An Eskom engineer who works at a power station confirmed that poor-quality coal had caused four of the six turbines at the power stations to seize.
“The piping that is supposed to transfer steam to the turbines from the boilers has ruptured due to the wrong grade of coal being used, that contains rocks that have exploded,” the engineer said.
As for the shipment of rocks sent to Hendrina power station, Kgadima says thankfully they were turned away. However it’s yet another example of mismanagement and poor contracts reducing the power generation capacity.
“How is it possible that the power plant operators do not know the geological conditions of the mines where they are supposed to get their coal from?” Kgadima asked.
The investigation continues
As it stands, the situation at Eskom seems far from under control. Serious questions have to be asked about the competency of the management at the state-owned company.
Until the full extent of the rot is investigated, the country and economy will be punished for the sins of those who have through incompetence and greed run Eskom into the ground.