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Power review team would ‘restore confidence’

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The South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) has reiterated its call for the urgent formation of an independent review team to perform a holistic peer review of SA's power problems and associated remedial plans and actions.

SAIEE president, Ian McKechnie, says this would go a long way towards restoring local and international confidence in SA's ability to deal with the current crisis.
"This constructive approach would produce a valuable independent peer review of the solutions, plans and capabilities of the various task teams and industry players across the full electricity supply chain," says McKechnie. "It will also assist in identifying and addressing problem areas.
"The members of such a team cannot be directly involved in day-to-day operations or on any of the task and project teams implementing the current solutions," he says. "This would ensure that objectivity and a 'fresh focus' are applied to the process.
"International participation should also be encouraged," McKechnie adds. "It is vital for our country that the broader electricity crisis is successfully resolved. Failure is not an option. We feel that this approach will ensure that comprehensive, achievable and viable solutions are implemented at all levels in the electricity supply chain."
McKechnie says that all current initiatives, including the various task and recovery teams, plus emergency programmes established by government and Eskom, must be considered as part of this peer review procedure.
"The process must ensure that proposed and planned solutions also incorporate the constraints and challenges caused by other factors," he says. "These include the protracted restructuring process in the distribution industry, plus resultant effects, the multiple role players throughout the supply chain, equipment supplier and contractor industry constraints, and the availability of skills at all levels in the engineering team," he says.
McKechnie says it is important to continually confirm through the review process whether the current planning for all initiatives and projects is realistic and on track.
"Currently there is a lack of substantive feedback on these activities with superficial information often being provided which, in turn, fuels uncertainty," he says. "The public must be accurately, reliably and timeously informed of the issues and implications in order to properly plan ahead."
He says the SAIEE's stance is to add value and work constructively with all the role players to creatively formulate solutions to the country's electricity crisis from an engineering and economic perspective.
He also confirmed SAIEE's willingness to assist in the formation of this independent review team and to be part of it.
"As a professional body, devoid of vested interests, we are able to objectively facilitate these activities," McKechnie says.