South Africans must brace themselves for load shedding, at least for another 18 months. So says Eskom Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andre De Ruyter, who briefed the media at Eskom’s headquarters, Megawatt Park on Friday.
This was his first briefing to journalists since he took up his post in early January. De Ruyter’s briefing came just after Eskom announced that it was implementing stage two load shedding from 9am on Friday that would continue until 6am on Monday.
The power utility’s CEO said load shedding was regrettably "unavoidable".
“We will have to give ourselves the space to fix what needs to be fixed," he said.
“Our system is constrained. It's unreliable and it's unpredictable. It is prone to unplanned outages and breakdown. We are extremely scrupulous when it comes to the imposition of load-shedding. It's not a decision we take lightly. I'm personally involved in every decision to impose load-shedding. It's very regrettable for us to have to do this to SA,” de Ruyter said.
The Eskom CEO also had some positive news. He said electricity users are improving on payments.
“At the end of December 2019, debt by municipalities was at R26.8 billion including interest with debt from individual users sitting at a level of some R16.5 billion,” he said.
“I am encouraged by strategies our disruption division has implemented since May of last year to enhance revenue collection. Since the strategy has been implemented, in Soweto for an example, [payments] have improved from 12% to 23%,” de Ruyter said.
He said politician partly played a role by encouraging people to pay.
“Partly because of some politicians publicly stating that there is need for South Africans to pay for services being rendered and that there is no free ride for service delivery,” he said.