In line with plans to completely phase out coal power stations in the country, state’s power utility, Eskom has set out to meet with concerned unions, especially the trade unions this week.
The power utility concluded its plans to phase out the Kriel, Camden, Hendrina and Komati power stations in Mpumalanga over the next five years, bu the south Africa’s trade union lamented that the power utility has failed to consult them before pushing forward the plans.
Eskom earlier announced the need to redirect the power sector from coal to a better alternative like solar. The company said this is needed to accommodate renewable independent power producers.
South Africans lament that phasing out the coal power plants will lead to increased unemployment as over a thousand SA mine workers will lose their jobs
“The biggest number comes from the mining companies. There are many people working in those mines,” says Congress of South African Trade Unions’ Sizwe Pamla who noted that the union will not support Eskom’s plans as it leads to job loss.
“We will ensure that those workers are part of the programmes themselves. Those that need training will be retrained” he said
Both Eskom and the union, which claims it is yet to be formally informed of the closures, have indicated that the matter needs further discussion.
But while proper conclusions are made towards shutting down coal power usage, Zimbabwe is negotiating a new deal to continue importing power from South African utility Eskom to make up for shortfalls in generating capacity at its Kariba hydropower station.
The country’s Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Samuel Undenge told reporters after a meeting between Eskom and state power utility ZESA Holdings that the two utilities were still discussing how much Eskom would supply to Zimbabwe, adding that imports would be paid for upfront.
In reaction to that, Eskom’s Khulu Phasiwe said a renewed contract to provide electricity to Zimbabwe is a welcomed idea in that it will bring much-needed income against the backdrop of a stagnant economy.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to meet its energy demands as a drought has crippled its biggest source of electricity, the Kariba Dam. In January last year, Eskom agreed to a one-year deal to sell up to 300 megawatts of capacity to Zimbabwe, as the country’s generation capacity fell to a low of 275MW from 750MW, causing widespread blackouts.
Odengu said the deal needs to be renewed because the country does not want a renewed load shedding which has been the case for a long time.
“I don’t want load shedding to return and we have been assured of continued support from Eskom so that we continue to have the country supplied with power,” he said as he urge customers to pay their bills to Zesa, to enable the company to settle its Eskom debt, which stood at $40m at the end of February.