Eskom evacuates Kusile contractors after protest

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A sign on the road to the construction site for Eskom's Kusile power plant near eMalahleni, Mpumalanga. 17 January 2015

JOHANNESBURG - Power utility Eskom on Friday said it had evacuated all contractors at its Kusile power station following a violent pay-related protest.

“Earlier this morning, there was violent protest by employees of SGB, a subcontractor of Mitsubishi Hitachi, at the Kusile Power Station. The protest was against SGB management, with the workers demanding that their pay-related issues be addressed,” the parastatal said in a statement.

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“In the interest of safety, all contractors were evacuated from the site…”

The financially crippled state-owned enterprise said the situation was now stable.

Eskom, already at threat of possible roiling blackouts due to insufficient coal supplies, is scrambling to revamp its ageing plants.

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Construction of all six units of the coal-fired Kusile plant are expected to be completed by 2023.

The company said the protest at the eastern Mpumalanga plant was over a bonus payment dispute.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said staff would return to work on Monday.

Twenty-seven protesters were arrested on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property after four vehicles were damaged during the protest, Mpumalanga police spokesperson Mtsholi Bhembe said.

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Construction at the site has stopped a number of times over the years.

Power generation at the online units has not been disrupted, Phasiwe added.