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'We have been doing nothing for 10 years': Idle Tshwane power stations cost the City billions


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'We have been doing nothing for 10 years': Idle Tshwane power stations cost the City billions

Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink
Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink

19th September 2023

By: News24Wire


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Around R300-million is spent annually on salaries for staff and maintenance at the Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations, which have not been operational for more than a decade.

On Monday, Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink addressed the media on the City's plan to procure and generate at least 1 000 megawatts of power independent of the state-run power producer, Eskom.


The plan, Brink said, is borne out of a need to reduce Tshwane's dependence on Eskom and alleviate the burden of loadshedding.

"Every day rolling blackouts make us poorer, degrade our infrastructure, and chip away at our funding model for local government," Brink said during a briefing at the Rooiwal power station.


As part of the plan, the City is looking at the possibility of a 40-year lease of the Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations. Last week, the Tshwane Council approved a public participation report for the proposed lease of the power stations.

Idle power stations cost millions

Brink told the media that both the Rooiwal and Pretoria West power stations, which belong to the City, have not been in operation since 2012.

He ascribed this to the cost of stockpiling coal to operate the stations as well as mismanagement and incompetence.

Despite the power stations not running, it still costs the City around R300-million per annum, which is spent on salaries of the staff employed at the power stations as well as maintenance and licensing.

"We are spending the money, we are preserving the power stations, but what are we doing with them?" Brink asked.

City of Tshwane chief economist Lardo Stander, who is on the City's energy task team, said the Rooiwal power station still employed around 200 people.

Staff at the Rooiwal power station, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed their frustration about "working" at a power station that was not operational.

"We have been doing nothing for 10 years. We want to leave here and work at other depots," one man said.

He added, "We don't earn salaries. They are just given to us."

Another man explained that despite not doing any work, they still had to clock in, and then hang around at the station before clocking off.

He said the inactivity was driving him crazy.

Describing his workday, the man said: "For 12 years, [I have been] sitting, eating, sleeping and knocking off at 16:00."

Some of the staff said they would occasionally do maintenance around the station, but they spent most days doing absolutely nothing.

Stander said that over the past decade, the two power stations have cost the City more than R1-billion in direct costs.

He added that during that time, the loss in revenue potentially had run into the billions.


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