Eskom reads the riot act to managers over stage-4 load shedding - TechCentral

Eskom reads the riot act to managers over stage-4 load shedding

Image: Steve Buissinne

Eskom has read the riot act to “apathetic” managers at its power stations, calling for an “urgent culture change” in the organisation, as the state-owned monopoly plunges the country into severe bouts of rolling national blackouts.

In an unusually strongly worded statement on Friday, Eskom said it had suspended several managers in charge of generation plants and warned that further disciplinary action could follow.

“While it is true that the ageing fleet is plagued by legacy issues of neglect and omitted maintenance and is therefore susceptible to unpredictable breakdowns, it is also true that the situation is exacerbated by serious issues of apathetic behaviour by some management staff,” Eskom said.

Over the past two days, Eskom has escalated the level of rotational load shedding from stage 2 to stage 4. On Friday, it reduced this to level 3, but warned that power interruptions would continue all weekend.

In its statement, the utility said the level of failures in its generation plants is “unacceptably high”. And, possibly for the first time, it’s pointed a finger at its on-the-ground management teams, rather than simply its old and creaking infrastructure, for the problems.

Interventions

It said the board has “come out strongly in support” of CEO André de Ruyter’s decision on Thursday to suspend “summarily” the Tutuka and Kendal power station managers pending disciplinary inquiries. “Further interventions are ongoing at the Kriel and Duvha power stations.

“Engagements have been held with other power station managers to ensure that the previous culture of weak consequence management will no longer be the norm and will no longer be tolerated at Eskom. The executive has, in the meantime, deployed three senior generation managers to the sites in question (Duvha, Kriel, Tutuka and Kendal power stations) to provide leadership and oversight in person,” it said.

“The board and executives are fully cognisant of the substantial strain that load shedding exerts on the well-being of citizens and on an already depressed economy, and are committed to attaining the sustainability and reliability of the Eskom generation plant.”

André de Ruyter. Image: Nampak

Eskom’s top management team and the board have met twice in the past two days with public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to “interrogate the systemic causes of the load shedding and the measures being taken to repair breakdowns”.

“In these meetings, it has been agreed that an urgent culture change and high-level competence enhancement across all 44 000 staff, which the group CEO began upon his arrival, should be accelerated, promoted and strongly supported.”  — © 2020 NewsCentral Media

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