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

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Vice President David Mabuza.

Photo: Tebogo Letsie/City Press

  • Vice President David Mabuza said design flaws at the Kusile and Medupi power stations are expected to take until 2027 to be fully corrected.
  • Mabuza said efforts to address design flaws have been slowed by events, including the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • He said Eskom was renegotiating contracts that saw the power utility bear the cost of design flaws instead of the contractors.

Vice President David Mabuza said that although Eskom has made progress in identifying design flaws at its Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power plants, the delicate process of correcting these flaws will only be concluded by now. the end of 2027.

Mabuza was responding orally to MPs’ questions during a virtual plenary of the National Council of Provinces on Thursday afternoon. The plenary comes amid continued load shedding and chilling tensions between Eskom management and the state.

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

The Medupi and Kusile power stations have suffered from construction delays and escalating costs. Parliament was told in 2019 that the maintenance costs to remedy Medupi’s flaws were estimated at R7 billion for Medupi and R285 million for Kusile.

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

“To establish progress in identifying these challenges, the policy work team on Eskom undertook a visit to Kusile. “, said Mabuza.

Mabuza said that after the Eskom policy task force recently visited the power plants, Eskom management said changes had been made to the Kusile power plant as design flaws were addressed.

He said that the solution to the boiler fault should be concluded by October 2023. The correction of the Kusile crushing plant will be completed after December 2027, “depending on the availability of the units in the event of a shutdown” , said Mabuza.

“We remain concerned that Eskom may have responded somewhat inadequately to Scopa’s recommendation after the 2019 monitoring visit, specifically to the change in dates of the Medupi and Kusile projects. The failure to resolve this issue has been affected by the Covid-19 risk adjustment strategy,” Mabuza says.

READ | Eskom’s grim warning: SA needs to more than double production capacity in just 13 years

EFF MP Mmabato Mokause asked Mabuza what he thought of Mavuso’s suggestion that Eskom management was not entirely to blame for Eskom’s crisis. Mabuza said assigning blame while the entity was struggling was unproductive.

“All we are trying to do is help Eskom fulfill its obligations. We are asking the board to do their job. Let’s all work together. There is no point in pointing fingers and ignoring the problem We would be betraying the nation and our people if we keep pointing fingers,” he said.

Freedom Front Plus MP Michiel de Bruyn questioned why contractors and Eskom shared the costs of fixing design flaws and why companies responsible for those flaws were not held liable.

“We asked Eskom this question ourselves and the answer we got was that all the different contracts have different provisions and specifications. There are contracts where it is stated that the contractors are not liable for any defect that may arise,” Mabuza replied. .

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

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