Johannesburg, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 16 May 2011 – South African national power utility Eskom Holdings has announced the lifting of restrictions at the construction site of its Medupi power station following protests, but many workers are still away due to election-related leave.
Medupi and Kusile, where construction was halted following similar protests, are Eskom’s two first power stations in more than two decades, and are meant to fill a looming power crunch.
Eskom hopes to prevent a repeat of a crisis which shut the mining sector for days in early 2008 and cost the economy billions of dollars in lost output.
“The Medupi site is open “’ the restricted access has been completely lifted. Any contractor who wants to work is welcome to come back to work. However, many workers left early to vote,” said Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe, adding that full work at the site was likely to resume next Monday.
“At Kusile, restrictions are still in place,” she added, “and the site is also affected by workers who went home to vote in Wednesday’s local government elections.”
Kusile Civil Works (KCW), the joint venture of contractors at the site, said work at Kusile would resume on Monday next week.
“There obviously has been some time lost but it’s never impossible to catch up. I am confident that it will be feasible to get back to full production starting Monday,"” said Stephen Pell, a spokesperson for KCW.
The protest at Kusile began in sympathy for workers at one of the firms, which was nearing the end of its contract and demobilising. At Medupi, whose first unit is scheduled to come online at the end of 2012, workers protested against the hiring of foreigners as welders.