Posted on: August 8, 2008 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa. ESKOM has stopped all road transportation of coal to power stations for 24 hours following 55 accidents in which 16 people have been killed during the last month.This halt in coal transportation comes as the utility is building stockpiles at its power stations.

The company said that the stoppage is necessary so that the coal transporters can re-focus on Safety. Work will resume on Friday 8 August 2008.

“During the past month Eskom has experienced an exceptionally high number of accidents relating to coal road transportation. We are extremely concerned,” Eskom CE Jacob Maroga said yesterday.The fatality figure was shockingly high when compared with the 29 Eskom-related people – 17 direct employees and 12 contractors – that died in the entire 2008 financial year.

“We are extremely concerned,” said Maroga.“We cannot allow this carnage on our roads to continue unabated.”

About 133700 tons of coal is transported daily to 11 power stations across the country using more than 1500 trucks.

Currently, coal stockpiles in Eskom power stations would last an average of 25.7 days. “Today’s action will result in the current level of coal stockpiles in Eskom power stations reducing by no more than two days, ” Maroga said. “Power supply will not be affected during this 24-hour stoppage of coal road transportation.”

Coal transporters have been requested to use the work stoppage time to discuss safety-related issues, review recent safety incidents, and retrain drivers on revised safe work procedures.“The intention of the exercise is to reinforce the importance of safety and to ensure that workers return home to their families at the end of each day,” said Maroga.

“I would like to re-emphasise to everyone involved in coal road transportation that no work is more important than human life.”

Despite what it said were significant efforts, Eskom’s Occupational Safety performance remained poor in the past financial year, the utility said in its 2008 annual report. It said the multi billion- rand build programme and “normal maintenance challenges” were putting pressure on Eskom staff and contractors.

In his presentation at the group’s annual results last month, Maroga said reducing the number of fatalities at Eskom would be his priority.