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Eskom dismisses reports of ‘lavish’ upgrades

Eskom on Sunday defended its proposed upgrades to Megawatt Park, its head office in Johannesburg, as a necessity despite the utility being under financial constraints.

They "are essential, they aren't lavish upgrades", spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said.

He said the upgrades were necessary for the health and safety of staff, data security and the improvement of energy efficiency.

The Sunday Times reported that the upgrades would cost the power utility R500-million. Etzinger, however, could not confirm the costs. He said there was no trade off between the health and wellness of staff and investments.

"Various components are in the process of going to tender but we can't preempt the costs," he said.

The Sunday Times reported that R3-million was earmarked for a VIP entrance and offices, plus R608 000 for curtaining. Landscaping would cost R1.4-million. The upgrades would also include an emergency generator installed at a cost of R8.5-million and a uninterrupted power supply systems for R6.7-million.

Another R81-million would be spent on air conditioning, heating and ventilation, the paper reported.

Etzinger said the proposed upgrades were to bring the building in line with energy consumption standards in the country.

'South Africans deserve … better'
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would write to the chairperson on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, demanding Eskom executives urgently be summoned to Parliament over the proposed upgrade.

DA spokesperson Natasha Michaels said the DA could not stand by while the South African public was forced to foot the bill for the "mother of all extreme make-overs" .

"To add insult to injury, it is the South African public who will feel the brunt of load-shedding in the winter months ahead," she said in a statement.

"This comes as the embattled Eskom not only struggles to provide tens of thousands of South African homes with power due to delayed construction at Medupi and Kusile power stations, but also seeks a government "equity injection” of R50-billion to ease its cash-flow problems."

Michaels said the focus of Eskom executives should be in preventing rolling blackouts, especially over the next few months, instead of seeking to maximise creature comforts at the utility. 

"South Africans deserve and demand better service. Eskom executives must be compelled to appear before Parliament so they may account for these ludicrous upgrades and explain what measures have been put in place to prevent blackouts," she said. – Sapa

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