Wednesday, 30 May 2018: The Medupi Power Station Project having commenced in 2007 has reached 89.9% of its construction activities with the 10.1% outstanding works scheduled for completion in 2020. At its peak, Medupi had 18,000 construction workers – 48% of those being from the Limpopo Province, 95% of the total being South Africans and approximately 60% of that workforce being youth – and is currently sitting at just over 13,500 construction employees. Aside from direct job creation, Eskom and its contractors have placed contracts for supporting services with numerous suppliers that have created about 2,000 additional supporting jobs besides construction workforce.
The decrease in number is a result of a demobilisation process, which the project is undertaking due to completion of certain construction activities resulting in certain skills no longer being required.
Recently Unit 3 produced its first power in April 2018, making it the fourth of the sixth units of Medupi to be synchronised to the national grid. By May 2018, it had reached full load. Unit 3 is still in the testing and optimisation phase but will at the same time be delivering power intermittently. Progress is also evident on Unit 2 as it achieved chemical clean milestone in April 2018 and Unit 1 having completed the boiler hydro test in March 2018. It is milestones like these that will ensure the country has stable electricity supply.
Like any other project that has a defined start and end date, Medupi is also nearing its completion. Based on that, a total of 1,530 construction workforce was demobilised in the past four months. Approximately 2,157 contractors workforce is forecasted for demobilisation in the next four months with 1,097 at the end of May, 250 end of June, 397 end of July and 413 end of August. At project completion, all construction related employees will be demobilised and the running power station will remain with the resources responsible for operating the plant.
It should be noted that demobilisation is when the contractor or seconded employee’s contract comes to an end due to the completion of the task the employee was employed for. Therefore, it is crucial to indicate that demobilisation should not be mistaken for retrenchment.
Rest assured the demobilisation of the workforce is executed in accordance with a set of stringent criterion which is monitored by an assigned department. Some of the critical factors in determining demobilisation include remaining scope of works, required skills to complete remaining works and the application of Last In First Out principle. The said criteria is agreed upon between the contractor and employee informed by the required skills for the remaining construction activities; and in the process Eskom ensures that the contractor has met all their obligations with the employee prior to demobilisation.
Eskom acknowledges that projects of this magnitude and complexity create massive job and business opportunities for the local communities but once completed they may leave communities with reduced employment alternatives.
In providing softer landing for the once employed locals, Medupi has different interventions designed to cushion the impact of the demobilisation of the contractors’ workforce. These include amongst others, the Medupi Leadership Initiative which was established to support the re-integration of demobilised Medupi local employees into the local economy; and the Medupi Corporate Social Investment designed to invest in necessary infrastructure development programmes. In addition is the construction of the flue gas desulphurisation plant designed to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions which will be undertaken in the near future. These interventions will ensure that the local community benefits long into the future. Medupi intends to leave behind a skilled workforce that can be recruited and be employable elsewhere.
Medupi continues to respond to the immediate socio economic concerns of the local communities by creating job and business opportunities for the local people. Eskom has committed to ensure a holistic and sustainable development by placing contractual obligations on all its contractors to develop skills, procure locally and develop small businesses. Since inception, Eskom has spent R4.1 billion on local to site suppliers in Waterberg District Municipality. In addition contractors have formally trained 4,586 South Africans of which 60% are from Limpopo Province. All this is done to ensure that whilst Eskom is building a power station, it also leaves a sustainable legacy within Lephalale and its surrounding communities.
Medupi, on completion, will ensure stable and reliable supply of electricity which will drive the country’s economic growth and development. Eskom is proud to say that in Medupi we are not just building a power station, we are building communities.