Willem Kempen | Why is Jan leaving Eskom again?


Willem Kempen | Why is Jan leaving Eskom again?

LESS than a month after Eskom signed a two-year contract with the retired Jan Oberholzer to oversee, among other things, the renewal of Koeberg nuclear power plant, it announced yesterday afternoon that it is parting ways with its former chief operating officer “by mutual agreement".

Officially, Oberholzer's last day will be at the end of this month, but News24 reported last night that he left last week.

Earlier yesterday, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said he was “very, very concerned" that the Koeberg project is behind schedule and that this would lead to higher levels of load shedding until at least next year.

There is little doubt about Oberholzer's credibility. He is an Eskom veteran of over 30 years with proven technical knowledge. He does not need the job, and he has no history of entertaining petty agendas.

The only logical deduction, therefore, is that he left because it was made impossible for him to complete the Koeberg project on time.

Ramokgopa admitted yesterday that two weeks ago he was once again too optimistic that a turning point with load shedding had been reached. Since then, a “perfect storm" of circumstances and mistakes in Eskom's planning, among other things, had led to the recent higher stages of load shedding.

More than 1,500 incidents of alleged sabotage at Eskom were being investigated, he said, and the police were beating this scourge, with 126 suspects arrested since last April.

Ramokgopa said his role is to simultaneously find solutions to Eskom's technical challenges and tackle its  “underlying problems": fraud, corruption, theft and sabotage.

The minister urgently needs to tell us: Did Oberholzer leave over technical problems with the Koeberg renewal, or did it have more to do with any of those underlying problems?

♦ VWB ♦

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