Numsa called for an independent probe of contractors at Eskom’s Medupi power station, placing the blame for delays solely on their shoulders.
The union’s position came a day after Eskom’s former finance director, Paul O’Flaherty, rebuked the construction industry, saying the way labour was trained, supervised and treated was unacceptable.
Eskom announced earlier this week that the plant would provide its first power by the middle of next year, six months behind schedule, which could hit its ability to meet electricity demand.
Numsa’s move to blame contractors came despite criticism of the unions after construction was beset by a series of illegal strikes for five months from December, the longest of which lasted six weeks.
At a media briefing on Thursday, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim also raised the possibility of sabotage at the Limpopo plant, saying the union had heard \"many stories\". He laid the blame for the delays squarely at the door of contractors.
A probe into whether there was any conflict of interest was required, he said.
\\\\\\\"We hear that some would be working during the day as managers, and their houses at Medupi would be rented out to Eskom to make money,\\\\\\\" Mr Jim said. \\\\\\\"Will they want the construction to end in December if they are able to extend it?\\\\\\\"
There was also a bomb threat at the plant last week, Mr Jim alleged. \\\\\\\"It’s time for vigilance, it’s time for Eskom to realise that when we deal with mega-projects and the state, we need to be watertight not to allow these companies to milk the state.\\\\\\\"
He described the conduct of these companies in relation to labour as \\\\\\\"terrible\\\\\\\". Eskom has said penalties would be imposed on contractors responsible for repeated delays in the building of its power stations.
Numsa and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), both Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) affiliates, organise workers at Medupi. There has been a long-standing contest between the two over workers at Eskom, who are meant to be organised by the NUM. Numsa has a large contingent of members at the power utility, who the NUM believes should be handed over to it.
On Thursday, Mr Jim said Numsa was now the largest Cosatu affiliate, having reached 320,000 members. The NUM, too, claims to have 320,000 members, but it lost members during the labour unrest in the mining industry last year.
It has been replaced as the majority union on the platinum belt by a rival union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). The rivalry between the NUM and Numsa in Cosatu has led to allegations that Numsa was funding Amcu, in a bid to dethrone the NUM as the largest, and most influential, union in the federation.
However, on Thursday, Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete moved to put to rest those allegations, saying that his union, too, was under attack by Amcu.
Numsa’s national executive committee had received a report from its Sedibeng region that Amcu was attempting to infiltrate three companies organised by it. Amcu has called Numsa members to a mass meeting tomorrow in a bid to lure them to join Amcu.
\\\\\\\"We shall never allow a situation of sitting back and bringing rivalry in the sectors of the economy we organise in, we plan to go all out,\\\\\\\" Mr Cloete said.
Gast plans to take Basil Read to court‚ saying the construction group has terminated an engineering contract without supplying an adequate explanation.
Engineering solutions company Gast plans to take Basil Read to court‚ saying on Monday the construction group had terminated an engineering contract with it‚ without supplying an adequate explanation.
The R83m contract related to infrastructure work at state-owned electricity utility Eskom’s Medupi power station. Gast said that Basil Read had terminated the contract without giving reasons and that this had happened late into in in the working process.
State-owned electricity utility Eskom is building the Medupi station in the Limpopo Province.
Basil Read deputy CEO Donny Gouveia said yesterday that the termination would have no material effect on the timing of it finishing its work at the Medupi power station. Eskom awarded a R516m Medupi infrastructure project to Basil Read.
The scope of work included the construction of permanent access and service roads to the ash dump area‚ dump earthworks‚ the initial-platform and wearing course for stacking‚ the bulk earthworks and geosynthetics for the various coal stock yards‚ ash dump and dams at the power station. Gast’s subcontracting work would be valued at R83m.
Gast spokesperson Jean Gonsalves yesterday said yesterday the contract had been terminated two weeks ago but Gast could not understand the reason for termination.
“We have no idea why. We have already completed more than 95% of the R83m contract. Simultaneously Basil Read has called upon Gast’s R8.2m performance bond‚ but they owe us R8m. This is because they have been late with six payment certificates‚” she said. Gonsalves said Gast would use legal methods to find out the legal reasons for the termination of the contract.
“It is unfortunate that Gast has had to withdraw from the project‚ considering the large amount of financial input and hours already spent working on site by Gast. “However‚ with six months unpaid certificates with as little as R300‚000 remaining of our contract‚ our client‚ Basil Read‚ has subsequently drawn our R8.2m performance bond‚ which left us with no alternative but to walk away.
“Despite this‚ we feel confident that our losses and damages can be recovered through the judicial system. We remain proud to have been involved with the Medupi power station project‚ providing some of the highest quality work and logistical success ever seen in the geosynthetics industry in Africa‚” she said.
“The position is now sub judice so I cannot give you any more details at this stage‚” she added.
But on Monday Gouveia said the Gast contract was cancelled because of a breach. “Gast failed to remedy a breach related to non-performance. Gast was to install linings for ash dumps. I would rather not give more details‚ for legal reasons‚” he said.
He said that “about a month go” Basil Read had appointed another sub contractor to complete the work that Gast was doing.
He did not know the other subcontractor’s name off-hand when asked by Business Day on Monday.
Basil Read would wait to see what legal action Gast would take he said and respond accordingly. “We are working on the project and are on track in meeting our deadlines‚” Gouveia said.
Independent power producer Cinnergi announces it has secured R7bn financing to develop its clean energy projects in SA.
Independent power producer Cinnergi — a joint venture between diversified resources miner Exxaro and Indian industrial group Tata - yesterday announced it had secured R7bn financing to develop its clean energy projects in SA.
Cinnergi has acquired rights to generate a third of the power allocated by the Department of Energy in the second window of the renewable energy independent power producers procurement programme and intends to build the Amakhala Emoyeni wind farm in Bedford, the Eastern Cape.
The wind farm will generate 134MW, while the company’s Tsitsikamma wind farm near Clarkson, also in the Eastern Cape, will generate a further 95MW.
The farms are set to deliver a combined output of about 229MW, or 35% of the allocation for wind, ranking them among the biggest to be run by a single entity in the second window of the programme.
Yesterday, Cinnergi announced it had reached the financial close for the project with financial institutions Standard Bank, the International Finance Corporation and Nedbank Capital, which will provide R5.2bn of the investment required.
Exxaro and Tata will fund R1.2bn in return for equity.
The joint venture with Tata is part of Exxaro’s strategy to take part in clean energy initiatives, Exxaro CEO Sipho Nkosi said in a statement yesterday. “The team (Cinnergi) has laid a great foundation for achieving its goal of becoming Southern Africa’s leading independent power producer,” he said.
The Amakhala Emoyeni project involves 56 wind turbines. Cinnergi will own the majority stake in the project, with the Cookhouse and Bedford community trusts sharing 5% ownership of the project.
At Tsitsikamma, the company will own 75% of the project with Watt Energy and the Tsitsikamma Development Trust owning 25%. About 31 turbines will be erected for the wind farm, which is expected to achieve commercial operation in 2016.
SA has risen in the ranks over the past year for attracting new investments, following the conclusion of service and funding agreements between the winning bidders for both legs of the programme.
The Department of Energy intends to generate 3,725MW from renewable energy as part of its integrated resources plan.
Last month, Eskom and the 19 preferred bidders in the second window signed the supply agreements whereby 1,043MW of power will be sourced from wind, solar and hydro energy by 2015. The projects are valued at R28bn and are set to create 7,441 local jobs.