South Africa has been cast into darkness once again. But this week’s Stage 6 load shedding was easily avoidable — if it wasn’t for the government’s ridiculous procurement policy.
A decision to prioritise tenders in the procurement of parts needed to maintain Eskom power stations is keeping the country on high levels of load shedding unnecessarily.
If Eskom was allowed to cut out the middleman and get these parts directly from the original manufacturers, it would be able to fix generation units on time.
Just this week, a faulty generation unit was scheduled to return to power, but it couldn’t be fixed in time. The unit produces 2,800 MW of power, which amounts to three stages of load shedding for the country.
So yes, you should be on Stage 3 this week, not Stage 6 all week.
While Eskom power plants are old and unreliable, the procurement of parts through the tender system makes maintenance schedules unreliable.
Minister of Electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has admitted the procurement policy is failing the nation.
“There is an issue that relates to the speed with which you are able to procure parts as you take out units or as units fail and that has to do with the procurement dispensation,” Dr Ramokgopa said this week on Morning Live.
“We have now engaged with two of the major equipment manufacturers in this country that account for close to 95% of the big units that are installed at the 14 coal-fired power stations so that we are able to procure directly.
“What I am putting before the cabinet is that the National Treasury should allow that there be direct procurement from the original manufacturers so that we are able to return units to service as quickly as possible.”
He said at the moment Eskom has to procure through the list of service providers “and we all know that whoever succeeds, they’ll go to the original equipment manufacturer to procure that part or that component that is missing”.
As a result of the time taken to follow this procurement process, units take longer to be fixed and they are fixed at a higher cost than they would be if parts were procured directly from the manufacturer.
“On average, it’s about 2,800 MW of units that have not been returned at the time that we promised to return them because of that procurement situation,” said the minister.
Breakdowns at Eskom power stations have hit a new record of 19,333 MW this week, plunging the country into Stage 6 load shedding.