What I saw and experienced at Majuba was not what I had imagined.
I travelled back from Majuba with a real sense of pride in the Eskom staff at all levels for the manner in which they dealt with the situation from before the incident happened to the development and very rapid implementation of an innovative medium-term solution that kept the lights on after less than a day of power interruptions.
I had planned to speak to as many staff members as possible to keep up morale. After speaking to them, they raised my morale. I was overwhelmed by the stories they told of commitment, of working through the night, of working together as a team, of willingness to think laterally to find solutions and, literally, to move mountains [of coal] to put in place an ingenious and courageous solution within hours.
I watched transfixed as every three minutes two truckloads of coal were scooped up and fed manually into the units. What is more remarkable is that the temporary manual operations are to continue 24/7 for a few months.
I was filled with pride to hear how a large private company had jumped in boots and all to assist with critical inputs and how provincial authorities had assisted with getting heavy equipment moved safely over public roads at an hour's notice.
Last week, I made an appeal to all stakeholders and political parties to work together to overcome our challenges in the electricity supply arena. What I saw and heard was the kind of single-minded pulling together which I had in mind. It made me believe that the spirit of 2010 is alive and well and lives deep in our DNA as a nation.
Indeed, many hands make light work in more ways than one.
I want to say directly to those who seem to have nothing but bad to say about Eskom's people, the staff from the operators of earth-moving equipment, to plant security, to engineers to the organisation's leadership did and continue to do a remarkable job and deserve to be acknowledged.
I am not going to deal with the technical details except to say that on Saturday the plant was performing better than Eskom had anticipated last week. I await the report of the investigation being conducted by national and international experts.
Having listened to everyone, including to Mike Rossouw, an expert on Eskom's capacity to deliver power reliably in the medium-term, who travelled with me, I came away with the following conclusions on the stability of our fleet of power plants: While the system is tight, we can stabilise the fleet. However, it will take a concerted effort and time and I appeal to everyone to be patient. There will be incidents like this but they are rare and, as we have shown, they can be overcome if we all work together.
For media enquiries contact, Colin Cruywagen on 0823779916 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by Ministry of Public Enterprise