Press Statement, 10 March 2022
NUM Western Cape region flabbergasted by Eskom's sudden change of plans concerning Koeberg's steam generator replacement project
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Western Cape is concerned about the decision that has been taken by Eskom to prolong the required maintenance (SG replacement), which threatens the future reliable operation of Koeberg – the most cost-effective and reliable power station in the Eskom fleet.
Koeberg has performed numerous modifications and upgrades, and invested in its staff, to attain a high level of credibility both nationally, and internationally. The steam generator project is part of the maintenance upgrade to sustain this reliable operation.
Eskom informed the public that they appointed the French contractor (Framatome), as it was the only company able to execute the SG replacement in 2018.
The NUM, therefore, questioned this decision and motives to further defer the project to 2023, despite the COO addressing the media late last year (SABC news) and stating that Eskom's preparation to execute this project is 98% ready.
Why the sudden change and removal of the project? The NUM is of the suspicion that this is related to money paid to foreign contractors.
On Friday 03 March 2022, a media statement was issued by Koeberg Power Station indicating that the installation of the 3 new steam generators (the SGR project) was removed from the 225 outages, citing avoidance of load shedding. This message was delivered by the company Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr Jan Oberholzer and Chief Nuclear Officer (CNO) Mr Riedewaan Bakardien.
The NUM previously understood from the Koeberg CNO in the Business Unit Forum meetings held between management and trade unions that the SGR project is on time and budget and that the project team transparently informed the organisation of all facility progress risks, with mitigations. The NUM is rather flabbergasted in how this changed so suddenly and why management did not intervene earlier to avoid the major financial impact and put Koeberg’s future in jeopardy?
There is little belief in the reason(s) provided for the removal of the project, as load shedding has now been implemented. It is a South African reality with no reason to believe it will improve for the next outages as no planning or forecasting has been provided for next year when SGR is planned for both units.
The NUM is concerned that the generation is in such a state that no outage overrun on any unit can be accommodated, while technical staff strongly advise maintenance to be done. It seems that generation capacity improvement is not realised as promised and that there is no confidence in the future of Eskom energy supply capacity or its current leaders.
It has become a trend in the state-owned enterprises, especially at Eskom that workers are used as a scapegoat for management failures and poor decisions that affect the organisation`s reputation whilst protecting international contractors that are failing to meet their contractual obligations.
We as the NUM are certain that South Africans have not been told the real reasons that the SGR project was removed from the current outage, this will negatively impact the financially strapped Eskom into more wasteful expenditure.
1. In conclusion, we are of the strong view that this project should not have been removed:
* Certain off the record “agreements” with foreign contractors must be investigated.
* Workers are being used as scapegoats in defending foreign contractors who fail to meet their contractual obligations.
* Workers in Eskom will continue to suffer meaningless or no increases, citing a cash strapped entity while management continues to waste a significant amount of money on questionable decisions.
* The load shedding excuse that was given to South Africans was just a smokescreen in removing the project from this current outage and just aimed at buying public sympathy.
* Eskom COO was appointed in 2017 to improve the generation performance. Why have trust in leadership that puts Eskom back to 2015 - pushing power station availability, without affording proper maintenance?
There are similar cases with this type of modus operandi of other Eskom projects that resulted in financial loss to the company ultimately impacting the country and our workers. A recent example is the Mark Chettiar case.
The COO and CNO need to take the country into confidence and provide the real reasons for removing the SGR from outage 225.
For more information, please contact:
Phumzile Mvovo, NUM Western Cape Full-Time Shop steward, 076 298 4024
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street.
Cnr Frederick Johannesburg
Tel: 011 377 2111 Cell: 083 809 3257
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