Africa

Major power outages in South Africa amid workers’ strike

Continued workers’ strike forces state-owned utility Eskom to extend rolling power blackouts

Hassan Isilow   | 30.06.2022
Major power outages in South Africa amid workers’ strike

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s power utility Eskom on Thursday started implementing longer hours of power cuts as workers at the state-owned enterprise continue their strike.

“Due to the continued unlawful strike Stage 6 loadshedding will be implemented at 14:00 local time until midnight (on Thursday). Stage 6 will again be implemented from 05:00 until midnight on Friday,” Eskom announced in a statement.

The firm said the continued staff absenteeism has made it impossible for them to do routine maintenance at some plants.

Eskom, which generates over 90% of the country's electricity, has been struggling to meet demand and had been implementing "Stage 2" outages for days, but started implementing “Stage 4” last week and now has elevated to “Stage 6.”

The utility which mostly uses coal to generate electricity has aging power plants and most of them need maintenance.

Wage talks between Eskom and trade unions – the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers – reached a deadlock last week, leading to continued protests.

The power cuts, expected to last through the weekend, are likely to affect businesses in Africa's most industrialized economy.

Eskom said on Thursday that it has 3,161 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 17,467 megawatts were unavailable due to breakdowns.

South Africa experienced its worst power blackouts in 2008, but experts say the current might overtake it should “Stage 6” power cuts continue for a week.

The government is now considering whether to allow independent power producers to operate in order to reduce the energy demand-supply gap.

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