'ESKOM WAS WARNED ABOUT ENERGY CRISIS'

Itumeleng Tsotetsi waitron at the Spur in Moponya Mall  lighting canddles after power failer   .Pic Elizabeth Sejake 17/01/2008
Itumeleng Tsotetsi waitron at the Spur in Moponya Mall lighting canddles after power failer .Pic Elizabeth Sejake 17/01/2008

A CONFIDENTIAL Eskom report shows a vacancy rate of 50percent in key posts during the load-shedding crisis, the DA said yesterday.

A CONFIDENTIAL Eskom report shows a vacancy rate of 50percent in key posts during the load-shedding crisis, the DA said yesterday.

DA shadow deputy minister of energy Cobus Schmidt said his party was in possession of the report from Eskom's corporate technical audit department, authored in late 2007 and circulated internally just a few months before the country was hit by major electricity supply shortages.

Schmidt said the report showed how Eskom's management had comprehensively failed to address "critical vacancies" in two critical areas - senior management posts, and short and long-term coal procurement positions.

This report supplemented the conclusions drawn by an internal Eskom memo, released by the DA in September, and authored by Susan Olsen, a leading international expert who had been recruited by Eskom, he said.

In that memo Olsen had warned that "without intervention", Eskom's primary energy generation faced "collapse", and would not be able to "meet current needs, much less future requirements".

"Olsen's memo, like the confidential report we are now releasing, demonstrates that Eskom received ample warning of the serious coal supply problems it faced, were presented with steps to remedy the situation, but appeared to do little to respond, other than to fire Olsen," Schmidt said.

In the Olsen memo, reference was made to how Eskom's lack of experience and failure to understand coal markets played a significant role in its later supply problems, and how Eskom's "haemorrhaging of talented staff" had left the power utility lacking "leadership, experience, knowledge and direction.

"Now we have in our possession a report from Eskom's own corporate technical audit department, which confirms these points," Schmidt said.

He said the report highlighted an "astonishing" 50percent vacancy rate in Eskom senior management and warned these human resource deficiencies risked the effective procurement of coal supplies.

Eskom could not be immediately reached for comment. - Sapa

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