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South Africa’s Eskom announces Stage 2 load shedding

FILE PHOTO: Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando, Soweto township, South Africa March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File PhotoFile photo – REUTERS

South Africa’s Eskom will implement Stage 2 load shedding starting 12:00 noon on Friday due to an increase in generation breakdowns that led to a loss of capacity exceeding 3,000 MW, the State-run utility said in a statement.

“While five generation units were taken off the grid last night and this morning, a breakdown at the Matimba power station has today resulted in the need for load shedding,” Eskom said.

This will continue until 22:00, with pressure on the grid expected to last over the weekend.

The delayed return to service of a generation unit at the Duvha power station, in Mpumalanga Province, has also added significant pressure on the generation system, Eskom said in a statement.

South Africans had been spared of power cuts over the past four months, after being constantly subjected to rolling blackouts in the past few years.

The latest spate of blackouts bode ill for the country that is being gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected 238,339 people and claimed the lives of 3,720 others since the outbreak in early March, making it the hardest hit on the African continent.

Eskom, the world’s fourth largest coal-burning power plant, has been struggling to meet South Africa’s growing demand for electricity. The utility implements rolling blackouts to avoid a total collapse of the national grid.